By Joel Hall
Since 1997, the Clayton County Board of Health (CCBOH) has worked to promote abstinence, and address adolescent health issues through its Adolescent and Youth Development Center in Forest Park.
Last week, the center also began offering free tutorial services as a holistic approach to helping Clayton students lead more prosperous lives.
The program, which is offered every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 4 p.m., to 6:30 p.m., connects certified teachers from metro area school districts with students in Clayton County who need assistance in subjects such as math, science, and SAT preparation.
Jamie Carlington, public information office for CCBOH programs, said scholastic achievement and overall health go hand in hand.
"The more we educate our kids, the better they will understand their health, as well as other issues," she said. "In an inter-agency program, where we are in cooperation with our public schools, [the goal] is to educate the whole community with a more holistic approach."
Brenda Tillman, youth development coordinator for the board of health, said the Adolescent and Youth Development Center specializes in teaching students life skills, such as safe sex, avoiding and managing pregnancy, resolving conflict, and eating healthily.
She said students, who stay on top of their studies, will more likely make better decisions about their health.
"Our whole goal is to focus on that child, making sure that they have the education to be healthy adults," said Tillman. "The tutoring is a vital part."
She said students who don't function well in school tend to drop out, which can lead to teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and other problems.
"If they can get that one-on-one tutoring, we can help build that student's self-esteem," said Tillman. "The more of a chance they have to get that help, the greater chance they have to succeed in life."
Tanisha Lyles, director of Praise Works Education Services, coordinates tutoring services for the program by contracting with certified teachers from area public school systems.
She said, since the program started last week, it has enlisted the services of seven teachers from Clayton, Fulton, and Atlanta public schools, and has about 20 students registered, mostly form Forest Park Middle School and Forest Park High School.
While teachers receive a small amount of compensation for their time, Clayton County students ultimately benefit from a free tutoring service, said Lyles.
"These are generally teachers that want to do more than what they can do in the classroom," she said. "I think it's highly successful because it puts students in touch with their true needs. Once they are in tune to that, they are much more willing to receive."
The Adolescent and Youth Development Center is located at 685 Forest Parkway in Forest Park. For more information about tutoring, contact the Clayton County Board of Health at (678) 610-7199.