[5 min read]
In this article:
- Partners Providence and Seattle Sounders FC share a mission dedicated to youth mental health and well-being.
- Providence Swedish staffers volunteered at an inaugural health clinic for families and student athletes from the Renton School District.
- Seattle Sounders alumni Steve Zakuani and Brad Evans were onsite at the clinics to visit with Renton families and caregivers staffing the clinics.
Seattle Sounders FC and caregivers from Providence Swedish joined forces at Renton High School on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9 to provide free physicals and other health care for student athletes and high school students from across the Renton School District, which serves a diverse population of approximately 14,100 students across 16 elementary schools, four middle schools and four high schools. Over 200 students received care at the event, which highlighted the importance of supporting physical and mental well-being among our young people.
Providence Swedish caregivers at a 2-day health clinic for Renton School District families. Photo at top: Sounders mascot Sammy the Sounder gave the recent health clinic at Renton HS a big fins up. Photo: Mike Fiechtner/Sounders FC Communications
The two-day clinic was the first in what is hoped to be an annual event for Providence and Seattle Sounders FC. Central to the partnership’s mission is a focus on youth mental health and wellness.
The event was jointly organized by Seattle Sounders FC and Providence and staffed by Providence Swedish caregivers who volunteered their time. Former Sounders and current club ambassadors Steve Zakuani, a retired midfielder, and Brad Evans, a retired midfielder/defender and former team captain, were on hand to spend time with caregivers and students, talk football and encourage them to take care of their mental and physical health. Additional activities for families included a kick around in the RAVE Foundation octagon, a small soccer setup for free play, and the Providence Challenge: after taking the Providence Mental Health Pledge, attendees tested their soccer and mental skills through three different agility drills.
Elizabeth Wako, M.D., interim president and CEO of Swedish Health Services, was among the caregivers who volunteered at the Aug. 8 and 9 health clinics for Renton School District student athletes. Photo: Mike Fiechtner/Sounders FC Communications
During his visit, Steve Zakuani shared some tips for young people going through a tough times and ways he manages his own big feelings.
“The first thing for me would be to know you're not alone; the problem you're struggling with others are probably struggling with that problem, and if not, something similar so talk to someone. You know, I wish that back then when I was a teenager, I'd have known that,” said Zakuani. “People are they're willing to listen, willing to help. And sometimes just getting out can be the first step to the road to recovery. But in all of that, just to know you're not alone and don't be afraid to talk to people because we all need help sometimes.”
Immunizations were also available at the event and were provided by community partner, HealthPoint. Students and their families also had the opportunity to learn about important mental health resources, including Work2BeWell and Hazel Health. Work2BeWell is Providence’s mental health and wellness program focused on providing free mental health resources and education for teens, parents and educators, with the goal to promote teen wellness across the country and work to normalize the conversation about mental health, reducing the stigma that surrounds it. In partnership with Providence, Hazel Health works with schools and families to provide physical and mental health services to fill gaps in student health care access and is being utilized in Renton schools this year.
Elizabeth Wako, M.D., interim president and CEO of Swedish Health Services, was among the caregivers who volunteered at the event.
“It can be hard to get an appointment with a [provider]. This allows our children to come in and get a physical so they can play sports,” said Dr. Wako. “And what we know about sports is that it is exceptional for our mental health. Children who play sports are less likely to be depressed, have anxiety or other mental health concerns.”
A Renton School District student with a Providence Swedish caregiver at the recent Providence and Sounders FC health clinic. Youth mental health and well-being are central to the mission of the Providence and Sounders partnership. Photo: Mike Fiechtner/Sounders FC Communications
Volunteer Sylvia Kennedy, a cultural navigator supervisor at Swedish, helped translate for Spanish-speaking clinic attendees. Kennedy was thrilled with the events and emphasized how vital they were to building relationships with community members.
“I would say we are breaking barriers here,” said Sylvia. “This is so important to our neighbors. We are helping them feel safe and providing a very different experience for kids and their families. We’re helping them feel comfortable in a process that could be overwhelming; especially for families that may be new in the United States. We are creating an environment that is friendly and welcoming. That is a real step toward equity.”
Providence is a nonprofit provider of healthcare services in the Western United States, and is headquartered in Renton, Washington. Providence’s Well Being Trust is a national foundation dedicated to advancing mental, social and spiritual well-being.
About Providence Swedish
Providence Swedish has served the Puget Sound region since the first Providence hospital opened in Seattle in 1877 and the first Swedish hospital opened in 1910. The two organizations affiliated in 2012 and today comprise the largest health care delivery system in Western Washington, with 22,000 caregivers, eight hospitals and 244 clinics. A not-for-profit family of organizations, Providence Swedish provides more than $406 million in community benefit in the Puget Sound Region each year. The health system offers a comprehensive range of services and specialty and subspecialty care in a number of clinical areas, including cancer care, cardiovascular health, neurosciences, orthopedics, digestive health and women’s and children’s care.
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