Helping Americans Live Healthier Lives: Locate Community Health Centers and Sign-Up for CHIP
Are low- and middle-income families in your community aware of the ways in which they may access health care for themselves and their children? Plan a service project for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service that helps families learn about the availability of free and reduced cost care through Community Health Centers and get children signed up for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Community Health Centers serve the primary health care needs of more than 20 million patients in over 8,000 locations across the United States. Health centers play a crucial role in providing affordable health services for millions of uninsured and newly jobless Americans. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides free or low-cost health coverage for more than 7 million children up to age 19. CHIP covers U.S. citizens and eligible immigrants. Participation rates vary from more than 95 percent in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia to a low of 63 percent of eligible children enrolled in Nevada in 2009.
There are five key steps to developing a project to promote a healthier future in your community.
- Identify a Location
Identify the groups that are providing community health services in your state. Ask them to partner with you on a project to increase awareness of community health services and to increase CHIP sign-up in your state. Take your project to your potential audience by contacting places that already serve your target audience, such as schools, public housing, community centers, social services centers, churches, or feeding programs in your community and ask them to partner with you also. One or more of these locations may be the ideal place to host your event. Select a location that is easily accessible via public transportation or within walking distance of the places where people live, learn, pray or play.
- Organize a Team to Plan
Recruit an informed team to plan and implement the event. A successful group effort requires a motivated team that agrees upon clearly defined tasks, sets reachable goals, and acts with inspiration and purpose.
- Meet regularly, especially as MLK Day approaches.
- Assign concrete tasks to keep everyone motivated and on track.
- Tasks might include:
- Gather information on the specifics of CHIP sign-up in your state
- Gather information on Community Health Centers in your community and the services they offer
- Identify other health related resources for kids and families at Let’s Move
- Contact Community Health Centers and CHIP program and ask if they can provide speakers for your event to tell participants about the services offered by the health centers or the health benefits children can receive under CHIP.
- Contact healthcare providers and invite them to engage in dialogue with participants about health.
- Promote the service project through posters or flyers in libraries, schools, places of worship, community centers, or grocery stores. Also consider radio announcements, social media, and word of mouth to let people know when and where the event will take place.
- Identify the supplies that you will need for the event. Include refreshments.
- Will anyone require accommodations to participate? Will you need a sign language interpreter?
- Order or print materials based on your target audience. Do the community health centers or CHIP have materials to share? Will you need materials in languages other than English?
- Solicit funds or in-kind donations of supplies from individuals or local businesses. For example, if you need to print materials, engage an office supply or print store. After reviewing in-kind donations, purchase any remaining supplies that are necessary before the service day and have them ready to go.
- Remember to incorporate a way to thank your donors, maybe by adding their logos with a thank you message to the bottom of all materials that you produce yourself such as the agenda for the day.
- Consider setting up a registration process to ensure that you know when you have reached capacity for the venue. Also consider having multiple sessions to accommodate more people.
- Depending on the size of the venue, consider setting up tables and inviting others with important information to share with your participants.
- Since these events will involve children, make sure to plan child friendly activities (possibly even mini-service projects such as decorating placemats for senior centers) for kids to do while waiting.
- Consider if you would like to add door-to-door dissemination of information in lieu of, or in addition to, on-site training. If so, you will need to:
- Order or print materials.
- Identify and train volunteers to go door-to-door; make sure volunteers can answer basic questions about the information provided in the materials.
- Create maps with sections to ensure that volunteers are able to distribute materials widely without overlapping.
- Set goals for yourselves that relate to the project design, such as number of people who attend, age groups represented, and number of materials distributed, for example. Record these goals and make sure you can meet them. If your initial assessment turns out to be too ambitious or too meager, revise the goals so the whole team will feel great about what you accomplish.
- Post your project on our site so that people in your area can join your efforts as volunteers or participants.
- Implement the Service Project/Activities
On the day of your event:
- Make sure project leaders or coordinators are at the site early, the site is set up, and they are ready to greet community members as they arrive. Even if some volunteers will be doing door-to-door distribution of materials, it is important that the group start off the day together and review what you are trying to accomplish.
- Officially welcome everyone and talk about the purpose of the event – promoting healthy futures for the community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Organize volunteers into different work teams. For example, have different people greeting participants, handing out refreshments, responding to questions, distributing materials, getting children signed up for CHIP, directing participants to information about a community health center near them, or managing the child-friendly activities or service projects.
- Utilize the invited speakers from the health centers, CHIP, and healthcare providers to lead dialogues about health with participants.
- Organize youth to do pre-planned, child-friendly activities if there are wait times for CHIP sign-up. Activities might include:
- Decorating lunch bags for senior citizen centers
- Making cards for seniors in assisted living facilities
- Learning about Dr. King through story books or coloring books
- For youth-friendly reflection and discussion ideas, visit Scholastic’s Spirit of Service curriculum for engaging conversation around Dr. King’s actions and how they inspire service projects. (Grades 3-5 and 6-8)
- Nutrition activities from ChooseMyPlate.gov for children over age five including a whole grain lesson and a whole grain word scramble to test knowledge gained from the lesson.
- Conduct your event, offering continuous encouragement to participants.
- Make time for reflection with participants and volunteers. Talk about the parallels and differences between your effort to improve the health of your community and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that encourage everyone to live up to the purpose and potential of America.
- Reflect and Assess
After the event, take some time to reflect with your partners on how it went. Think about what went well and what could be improved.
- Debrief with your team members and presenters after the event.
- Evaluate the goals that you set for the event and consider which you met, exceeded, and didn’t quite reach.
- Who did the event impact? What did you accomplish? What were your impressions of the day?
- Ask everyone for their honest assessment of what went well and how to improve it for next time.
- Consider what doing this work on MLK Day, in particular, meant to you.
- Make a list and plan for necessary follow-up.
- Share Your Story
We know you might not like to brag, but please do! You may inspire others to organize a health awareness event once they hear what you accomplished. Share your service story. We're listening and want to know what you did.