Supporting Children’s Health Through High-Quality Education

Supporting Children’s Health Through High-Quality Education

By Stephanie Mintz, Student Services Director and Community School Coordinator, Briya Public Charter School

In honor of Children’s Health Day, I am grateful for Briya Public Charter School’s long-standing and evolving partnership with Mary’s Center. We know that a healthy, nurturing environment contributes to positive outcomes for children and families. Briya’s integration with Mary’s Center and our unique two-generation school—where immigrant adults and their young children learn at the same time—provide exactly this.

Briya addresses barriers to student success and educational engagement using the nationally recognized Community Schools framework, meeting all the needs of our families through high-quality education, as well as social services and health care with Mary’s Center.

Providing these comprehensive services in an inclusive, learner-centered environment helps adult and early childhood students feel a sense of belonging and safety; they reach out for help when needed and trust our team as a reliable source of health-related information.

Here are some examples of Briya’s responsive programming that supports children’s health:

Student Services

Briya’s Student Services team shares resources and hosts special parent sessions on preventative care, nutrition, immunizations, mental health, and wellness. We provide one-on-one assistance with scheduling medical appointments; responding to health concerns, including COVID-related ones; and navigating health insurance and other critical public benefits. We make referrals and warm hand-offs to trusted community partners. We also strive to normalize mental health by talking openly about the impact of stress, grief, and trauma, and by providing on-site individual, family, and group therapy through Mary’s Center’s School-Based Mental Health program.

Adult Education

In line with our belief that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, our weekly child development classes provide information, skills-building, and a space for parents to share their experiences and learn from each other. During our pandemic virtual school year, these classes transformed into first-language parent groups that included monthly self-care sessions. We are looking forward to continuing with this format, offering the popular self-care sessions on a weekly basis during the 2021-22 school year, which will include hybrid learning for adults. We also plan to coach parents as wellness ambassadors who feel confident leading stretch and breathing breaks during their adult class and at home with their children.

Early Childhood Education and Family Time

Our outdoor learning curriculum for early childhood students focuses on sensory experiences, trauma-informed practices, arts integration, music, and movement. It has allowed children to grow in all areas of development—social-emotional, physical and cognitive—while strengthening their connection to nature and environmental literacy.

During Family Time, parents join their children to apply child development knowledge and work together with easy-to-replicate materials and experiences while teachers offer support and guidance. We are excited to offer hands-on workshops just for parents this coming school year. The goal is to relax the mind in a “grownups only” social atmosphere while also making a tangible object for parents to take home for use with children.

Continuous Growth

We are appreciative of our close work with Mary’s Center staff to develop and administer a Social Determinants of Health screening tool among our adult students. The goal is to more deeply identify and respond to our students’ needs in the areas of housing, healthcare, employment, transportation, safety, and other sources of stress. By strengthening our communication and relationships with families, we care for children’s overall health and well-being.

Learn more and sign up for classes with Briya here.