If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.
The American School Health Association (ASHA) is committed to improving the lives of children and youth. While our mission focuses on ensuring that all schools are places where every child learns and thrives, we know that many of today’s adolescents struggle to remain in school due to family dysfunction, substance abuse, poverty, and pregnancy and parenting. This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, tells us that young people need a loving, strength-building environment with structure in order to flourish and move beyond a troubled past. In addition to his duties at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Ginsburg serves as the medical director of Covenant House Philadelphia.
ASHA members are caring and dedicated professionals. Each year, we come to a new conference city, stay a few days, and then return to our families, homes, schools, and universities. While at the conference, we learn from each other but what do we learn about the community and the children and youth who live there? This year, we are starting a new ASHA tradition: “ASHA Gives Back”. By donating to a local youth-serving charity, we can leave a small but meaningful impact on the lives of local children and youth who need our help and support to learn and thrive. We have a chance to touch the future and touch a life.
As ASHA president, it seemed fitting to select Covenant House of Florida as the inaugural charity. Covenant House serves runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth under age 21 including teen parents and their babies. Each year, Covenant House reaches hundreds of kids in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando via street outreach, crisis shelters, transitional housing projects, and aftercare. Kids may come to Covenant House in crisis and immediately and without question, their basic human needs are met — a nourishing meal, a shower, clean clothes, medical attention, and a safe place away from the danger of the street. Covenant House teaches kids by example that caring relationships are based on trust, respect, and honesty. Young people are provided with a regular schedule that gives them the stability they need in order to focus on the future. Kids are encouraged to believe in themselves and to make serious choices about their futures.
We are not asking for a monetary donation. The kids at Covenant House need school supplies, personal hygiene items, and clean clothing. Many of these items you can pack in your suitcase or tote bag. You may be able to purchase some once you arrive in the Orlando area. Donation boxes will be available during the conference at the ASHA registration booth. The kids need:
- Pens and pencils
- USB Drives
Personal Hygiene Items
- Shampoo, conditioner and hair gel (trial size)
- Men’s and Women’s Deodorant (trial size)
- Body Wash/Soap and Soap Containers
- Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
- Towels and Wash Clothes
- Business attire for men and women (e.g. suits, slacks, shirts, blouses)
- New Men’s Jeans (new styles)
- New Men’s and Women’s Shorts
- New Polo Shirts and T-shirts (S-XL)
- New Sneakers and Dress Shoes (Men’s and Women’s)
- Men’s Belts (size 34 & up)
Please bring some of these much-needed items to the ASHA Conference in Orlando. Just think, after you make a donation, you will have plenty of space in your suitcase for all those Disney and Florida souvenirs you promised your kids or co-workers!
Even if you are not attending the ASHA Conference this year, you can still send a small item to the conference with a colleague who is registered for this year’s conference.
I hope we can make this an ASHA tradition and give back to the community hosting us each year. It is a small way to leave our mark and show the local community that ASHA really cares about kids! ASHA Gives Back—Touch the Future, Touch a Life!