Education and Literacy
Literacy is an often overlooked aspect of good health, but at Arkansas Family Health Foundation, we make it our priority in a variety of programs:
- We offer eye exams to assess whether someone has the proper vision to read or if he or she needs medical attention, glasses, or contact lenses.
- We also offer basic reading lessons for children and adults of all ages.
- We provide assessments to determine if a person has a learning disability.
- We teach adults how to read and understand financial texts.
- We built an early learning center for children 5 years old and younger.
Through our literacy programs, we’re dedicated to growing an educated, competitive, and productive workforce. To help raise awareness for our literacy outreach activities in the Arkansas Delta, Arkansas Family Health Foundation hosts educational events.
ARcare Center for Education & Wellness
On September 29, 2011, Arkansas Family Health Foundation broke ground on the ARcare Center for Education and Wellness, an early learning center for children 5 years of age and younger.
The $3 million facility, which opened in July 2012, features:
(3 & 4 Year Old Room)
The new learning center provides the children of the Arkansas Delta an opportunity to break the cycle of illiteracy and combat obesity and weight-related issues. The ARcare Center for Education and Wellness is open to all residents.
For more information, contact Amber Ellis, Center Director, by calling (870) 347-3400.
Pediatric Focus: The Foundation also partners with Fox Meadow Elementary School in Jonesboro and The Learning Center of Northeast Arkansas to ensure children in the Jonesboro community have access to pediatric primary care. Our on-site staff includes Robert Hornbeck, MD, Board-certified Pediatrician, Renee Jones, DO, Osteopathic Physician, and Jaime Whitehead, APN, Board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Amy Julian oversees the pediatric department in our School Based Health Center in Southside.
ARcare School Based Health Centers
The Foundation is excited about the opportunity to be a part of the school-based health clinic (SBHC) partnership between ARcare and several school districts in our coverage area. ARcare began the SBHC mission with the Cross County School District in Cherry Valley and then grew to the Southside School District and Augusta School District. Our School Based Health Centers were established to meet the health care needs of students, faculty, staff and the community.
Sadly, many students do not have regular access to medical and wellness services, which makes our partnerships with the Southside and Cross County School Districts so valuable. We are proud to offer a school-based health center so every child - from newborn to12th Grade - can receive the care they deserve, right here at school. Our purpose is to help students and faculty do better in school by working to solve physical health problems, preventing serious illness and promoting healthy lifestyles. We also strive to provide increased access to healthcare services in the community.
Our centers are full service health clinics that provide care services that include, but are not limited to; well child checkups, sick visits, immunizations, sports physicals, flu shots, referrals, x-ray, periodic dental and vision. Each clinic is open Monday–Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. We’re open even when the school is not!
Additionally, our investment within these school districts exceeds our basic commitment to provide high-quality healthcare. The Foundation proudly partners with the Brown Chair in English Literacy at the University of Arkansas to promote literacy and cultural capital within our SBHCs. Examples of this initiative include:
The Augusta Community Literacy Project
The Augusta Community Literacy Advocacy Project is aimed at improving the reading and writing abilities of all town residents, from children to adults. The project is a joint effort by the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, ARcare, and Arkansas Family Health Foundation.
Since its inception, we've had young mothers learning how to create literacy-friendly environments in their homes for pre-school and school-aged kids; we've had innovative reading and writing projects in elementary and secondary schools; we've had young people and senior citizens in churches collaboratively writing stories "Pillars of the Church."
In 2006, before the project started, 48 students graduated from Augusta High School; only 22 took the ACT, and only six went to college. By 2009, 23 of the 29 seniors who graduated from Augusta were accepted to college, and they earned over $202,000 in scholarship money.
ARcare Shakespeare Festival
On May 28, 2011, we officially kicked off our literacy program with our inaugural Arts and Shakespeare Festival. It featured a professional production of Shakespeare’s great romance, The Tempest, along with public readings by high school students who studied the play, and a performance of choral music composed by University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor Robert Boury.
Prior to the Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Family Health Foundation hosted a series of educational lectures and discussions about The Tempest on several college campuses throughout the state from April 12-20. The lectures were presented by Professor Peter J. Smith, one of the world’s leading Shakespeare experts, from Nottingham Trent University in England.
ARcare Academic Challenge
In 2013, ARcare Education Director, Joy Lynn Bowen, introduced a unique academic challenge dubbed “Fear Factor – Shakespeare Style” to the students at Augusta High School. The competition involved a combination of education, commitment, creativity, analysis, and determination. The final prize was an all-expense paid trip to Stratford and Niagara Falls, Canada for an adventure involving professional theatre and music, travel, language, history and five fun-packed days.
ALL students in this age group were given the chance to accept the challenge criteria, mastermind their strategy, and strive for excellence. James Anderson, a college professor and doctoral student from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, worked with all sophomores, juniors, and seniors in their English classes in analyzing Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Students identified rivalry as being the basis of this play and were then taught writing techniques focused on learning skills needed to improve ACT scores.
The Fear Factor – Shakespeare Style challenge involved:
- Writing a substantial essay based on the English class discussion and writing techniques taught
- Taking the ACT test
- 1st semester GPA
- Completing a community service project
- A creative project involving Shakespeare or Canada
- A second writing project involving comparison and contrast of Shakespeare with another author
The winners were designated as ARcare Scholars in Residence and were invited to participate in ARcare activities, board meetings, and special events, and received specific assistance in achieving their goals for excellence.
ARcare Academic Challenge 2013 was a huge success. Under the direction of Dr. David Jolliffe from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and Mrs. Bowen, the ARcare Scholars in Residence program continues to expand, offering this type of project to students in other schools throughout the ARcare Health Service Area.
The ARcare Education Program mission is to be a catalyst for individuals to improve their lives; to provide opportunities to identify, understand, interpret, create, and communicate to achieve goals; to develop knowledge; and to realize one’s potential.
Other ways in which the University of Arkansas worked to improve the chances students in Augusta and surrounding communities would excel in education include: