Announcing Our 2018 Award Winners

Announcing Our 2018 Award Winners

By John Schlitt, President

Each year for nearly two decades, the School-Based Health Alliance has recognized luminaries in the school-based health care field with a Lifetime Achievement award. During the national convention we honor select individuals and institutions who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the mission of school-based health care. We celebrate leaders who embody the spirit of innovation, dedication, and collaboration, who go above and beyond to manifest the vision of quality school-based health care for all young people. And while we’re pleased to honor that tradition once again in 2018, we’ve complemented the veteran award with a Rising Star tribute to individuals early-to-mid-level in their careers who are actively solving pressing issues in school-based health care.

First, the lifetime achievement award, and because I’ve been privileged to work with so many extraordinary individuals, it often feels deeply personal. This one’s no exception.

It’s been my great pleasure to have known and worked with Dr. Veda Johnson for over 20 years to expand and promote school-based health centers nation-wide as a proven model of healthcare for at-risk and underserved youth. A pediatrician and school-based health care pioneer, Dr. Veda Johnson’s tireless advocacy and enduring vision have changed the face of pediatric care in Atlanta, across the state of Georgia, and nationwide. Dr. Johnson is a leading authority on school-based health care models. She has spent her entire career pushing health care out of the medical complex and into neighborhoods and schools so that all children, no matter their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or zip code, have limitless opportunities to thrive.

Over the past two decades Dr. Johnson has served on the School-Based Health Alliance Board of Directors, been a welcome presence as faculty at our national conventions, and, at our behest, periodically testified before Congress about the school-based health care model. Dr. Johnson currently serves as the Alliance’s liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health where she is establishing a framework for collaboration between the two organizations.

Her many outstanding contributions to the growth and sustainability of school-based health centers span academic, research, education, training, philanthropy and advocacy realms.

Our 2018 Rising Star is Amanda Forsmark, a health educator with Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, who’s been a part of the Saginaw High School-Based Health Center in Michigan since 2011.  During her time there, she has established a state-recognized Teen Advisory Council (TAC) that is financially self-sustaining, runs a variety of innovative programs for youth peers, and has won several state-wide and national awards for their work.  Some of their programs include: state and national advocacy projects related to health care for teens; a “Respect Campaign” that resulted in lowering bullying rates at Saginaw High School; “REAL TALK” annual youth symposium to educate young people about healthy sexual choices; and an “I’m Healthy and I Know It – I Work Out!” program that fosters healthy eating and exercise after school hours.

Amanda “loves to work with young people and to see her students create positive change in their community.”  Her infectious smile and calm, “can-do” attitude make her a joy to be around, and her peers, school/community partners, and the young people she works with all rave about her passion, competence, reliability, creativity, and dedication to the SBHC and TAC models.

Congratulations to Veda and Amanda! We’ll see you in Indianapolis.

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