Research shows that urban youth in underserved communities are disproportionally faced with increased stressors including violent neighborhoods, substance abuse, poverty, lack of support and limited resources. In 2012, the Healthy Minds pilot project was created by medical students at the University of Pittsburgh to address these disparities. Specifically, it was geared towards promoting positive self-conception amongst at risk minority youth in urban underserved communities.Healthy Minds Academy is a student-led organization with a mission to empower youth with the knowledge of health, social and environmental issues that plague their community. In addition, Healthy Minds Academy (HMA) aims to instill in them a desire for academic and professional success. The vision of HMA is to foster a community of student leaders in underserved neighborhoods that will aspire towards academic and professional success. Through successful implementation, the targeted middle school students increased their mental health awareness and self-esteem as measured by the Rosenberg self-esteem scale. After the successful pilot year, the program has grown over the past years and expanded with help of other graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh. The goals in Healthy Minds are to: address issues contributing to the prevalence of educational disparities in underserved communities; level the educational playing field by through quality workshops, mentoring, and field trips; teach youth coping mechanisms for a variety of stressful life situations; encourage the youth to support one another’s success; assist youth with developing plans for positive change in their lives; promote academic excellence with student led mentoring and homework help; and expose kids living in underserved areas to positive role models. The HMA launched at Westinghouse Academy in October 2016. Programming started on October 17th and will conclude on May 1st. The program is offered on Mondays from 3:45 to 6:00 p.m. Healthy Minds programming consists of a 1-hour educational workshop and 1 hour of study hall with University of Pittsburgh students providing homework help. These sessions are held in Scaife Hall. The HMA launched with 8 middle school students from Westinghouse Academy. The Healthy Minds Academy launch at Westinghouse Academy was facilitated and financially supported by Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools.
Healthy Minds Academy is a student-led organization with a mission to empower youth with the knowledge of health, social and environmental issues that plague their community.