Mentoring At-Risk Youth in Arizona
We are committed to showing up for young people in our communities.
We believe that by continuously showing up for the individuals with whom we work, we will be able to create positive and lasting change in their lives.
Since 2010, HEAL has provided mentoring and health education to over 400 youth in Guadalupe, Arizona. The town of Guadalupe is located between Tempe and Phoenix and is a relatively low-income and minority-dense area. Residents of the Town of Guadalupe face many challenges, not the least of which is a lack of education and poverty. Census data from 2000 show that approximately 26% of the residents of Guadalupe are living below the poverty line and more recent (2012) data how that 25% of adults have less than a 9th grade education.
In addition, most of the youth face increasingly difficult options about whether or not to use drugs and have sex at very young ages, and some must even choose if they will follow their parents and siblings’ footsteps into jail.
HEAL International members provide mentoring to at-risk youth ages 7-18 in partnership with Flight 33, a local non-profit organization, twice per week. HEAL International members provide tutoring, mentoring, and support for children, teens, and families. In particular, HEAL International focuses on
providing health education and plans a service project during the semester that furthers health and empowerment for the children.
“Our volunteering in Guadalupe there is with children from ages seven to 18, and is intended to empower them to make good choices for their health.”
Our mentoring program aims to increase college acceptance rates and decrease of high-school dropout rates. In addition, we work to educate young people about the impacts of teen pregnancy, drug use, early sexual practices, and HIV transmission. While not all of the Guadalupe youth are old enough for the prevention education, they will eventually be faced with decisions about drugs, sex, and lifestyle.
HEAL hopes the values instilled in the mentees will be passed down to future generations of Guadalupe youth.
Computers for Change
In 2015, HEAL International launched Computers for Change, a computer scholarship program for families in Guadalupe. With funding from Woodside Community Action Grant at Arizona State University, and in partnership with Flight33 and community leaders, we delivered scholarship applications to 120 students in Guadalupe.
We contacted local businesses and acquired 10 computer systems for our first cycle. Frequently, businesses donate aging computers, or sell them for discounted rates, and we believe that these computers can be reused for good.
Providing students with access to computers has been shown as an effective way to improve academic success - having a home computer is
associated with higher test scores in mathematics and reading, even after controlling for family income and cultural capital. Not only does access to a computer improve school-work, access to information allows young people to learn, create, dream, and grow beyond their communities.
Students report that having access to a computer helps to improve their grades, get work turned in early, and finish uncompleted assignments. We expect to observe higher academic success in terms of GPA, higher graduation rates, and lower truancy rates as a result of our program.
The first round of computers were placed in the Yaqui Tribe Community Center in Guadalupe and are used by young people from the community.