Crozer Wellness Center Earns Excellence in Youth Award
- The Delaware County Workforce Investment Board and its Youth Council, in partnership with Delaware County Council, recently presented the Wellness Center with an Excellence in Youth Award in the category of Exemplary Employers.
- The Wellness Center has demonstrated consistent dedication to building workforce skills among Chester youth, offering a wide range of programs for young people.
- The Wellness Center is helping to create the next generation of Chester’s adult leaders.
Members of the Chester Youth Collaborative take a break for a group shot during the 2009 Chester Youth Empowerment Summit.
The Crozer Wellness Center was recently recognized for its dedication to helping young people lead healthier lifestyles and gain leadership skills. The Delaware County Workforce Investment Board and its Youth Council, in partnership with Delaware County Council, recently presented the Wellness Center with an Excellence in Youth Award in the category of Exemplary Employers.
These awards honor youth who exhibit leadership as well as adults and businesses that have displayed a commitment to youth and youth programs. More than 162 applications were submitted for this year’s awards, which went to eight area youth, three adults and two employers, and were presented during the Board’s quarterly meeting.
“We are very excited about being recognized for the workforce development aspects of our programs. Our programs are typically seen as being focused on youth leadership development, but so much of youth leadership is about basic workforce skills, like public speaking, professional conduct and an ability to work with diverse groups of people. The skills our participants build are transferable to any workplace,” says Kate Blackburn, administrative director of the Wellness Center.
Wendell Butler Jr., mayor of Chester, nominated the Wellness Center for this award. He praised the Wellness Center for providing high-quality health care to children and teens. He noted that the Wellness Center is well known in the community for its dedication to positive youth development — building on the existing and potential strengths of youth in order to help them stay on course and avoid unhealthy behavior.
The Wellness Center opened in 1995, with a focus on improving the heath status of adolescents in Chester. For over 15 years, the Wellness Center has demonstrated consistent dedication to building workforce skills among Chester youth, offering a range of programs for young people.
Some of the Wellness Center’s programs recognized by this award include:
- The Peer Leader Program, which trains students in grades 9 through 12 to serve as community health educators. Peer Leaders present workshops on topics like substance abuse and peer pressure to middle school students in the Chester Upland School District.
- The Chester Youth Council, which trains young people between the ages of 12-22 to serve as community leaders, sitting on boards, resident councils and other leadership positions across the city to lend youth voices to help solve issues in the community. Council members also work with adult residents to plan and execute community engagement projects, such as block parties in neighborhoods or the annual Chester Youth Empowerment Summit (a conference serving more than 500 young people and adults). The Crozer Mentoring Program (established in 2007) trains youth in grades 9-12 to serve as mentors to a set group of students at Columbus Elementary School in Chester.
Each of these programs engages 30-50 youth leaders per year. Workforce skills are formally assessed by staff observation at the end of baseline training for new participants, then annually.
The Wellness Center Alumni Internship was established by Crozer senior executives as a means of recognizing the outstanding leadership potential of the participants in the programs noted above and as a way to infuse CKHS’ workforce with young leaders who can be groomed over time. Each spring, high school seniors in the Wellness Center’s programs compete for two seats in the internship, going through a real-world application process that includes interviews with two hospital presidents. Those who are selected join the existing cohort of college students in the program. They work 30 hours per week during summer and winter breaks for the duration of their education, rotating to various departments throughout the Crozer-Keystone Health System and being mentored by executives.
The programs assess workforce skills that are transferable to any/all jobs, such as punctuality, preparation and interpersonal communication, as well as skills specific to each of the programs. Most participants remain in the programs for multiple years, and have demonstrated steady gains in their workforce skills over time.
In addition to operating their own youth programs, the Crozer Wellness Center serves as the lead organization within the Chester Youth Collaborative, a city-wide initiative aimed at increasing the quality and number of opportunities for youth ages 12-22 to assist youth in making a successful transition to adulthood. Over the past 2 years, staff members of the Collaborative have coordinated the Employer Paid Internship (a project sponsored by the Philadelphia Youth Network, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Chester Youth Collaborative), providing summer jobs and employment training to 37 Chester youth.
The Wellness Center is helping to create the next generation of Chester’s adult leaders. The City of Chester and the Wellness Center are collaborating on ways to explore the possibility of establishing a Chester Youth Commission, which would be a body of youth working with city government to influence policy and decisions. Many of the students who have successfully completed Wellness Center programs have since graduated from various universities and returned to work in Delaware County.