Focusing on our Homeless and Runaway Youth
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Remembering Runaway and Homeless Youth

Dear Friends,

I'm asking you to remember what it was like to be a teenager in school. Trying to even make it through with exams and expectations from teachers and peers. 
Navigating the hormonally charged atmosphere of high school hallways and Friday night football games. Dreading (or living for) various classes, teachers and lunch tables. Remember worrying about taking any exam let alone the SATs and ACTs, hoping your scores would allow you the future you envisioned. It was a tense time. Now I want you to think about negotiating all that in today's world...without a roof over your head. Perhaps while staying in a shelter. Or in the back of a car. Or by your wits on the streets.
November is National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month. LAUSD takes seriously its charge to provide education to these children, and the number of them is staggering. 13,794 homeless youth and 8,278 foster youth to be exact. The L.A. Trust is proud of LAUSD's new Foster Youth Achievement Program under the Pupil Services Division. We acknowledge Erika Torres and La Shona Jenkins for their leadership in developing and manning the burgeoning 80+ person workforce in place to support these important students across our district.  

In this month of Thanksgiving, please consider supporting these children through upcoming events listed here (look on the right side of the page). Plus here's a took kit with myriad resources you can learn from and share with families, classes and community groups. 

Growing up is hard enough when you have what you need. This month (and all months), let's remember our students for whom the basics aren't even remotely a given. 
Student Health = Student Success!
MJ Signature
Maryjane Puffer, BSN, MPA
Executive Director
The L.A. Trust for Children's Health

P.S. Here are some other very worthy ways you can participate:
Operation School Bell Prom Day
National runaway Safeline 1 800 RUNAWAY
Runaway prevention curricula is available at


Y2Y Youth Summit a High Point  

On Friday, October 17, The L.A. Trust and the California School-Based Health Alliance brought together over 130 student leaders from 12 LAUSD schools, 50+ adult allies, and sponsored workshops on mental health, healthy eating, healthy relationships, etc. The standing-room-only event was held at LAUSD's Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center. It was a gorgeous, busy, creative and powerful day. We are proud of this work and of these young people! To see photos from day, click here. Our next Y2Y Summit is planned for April of 2015!

Fremont.crop 2Students from Fremont H.S. Wellness Center show their zeal for wellness, to say nothing of the camera.


LAUSD 5K on Nov. 22 to Benefit Wellness Centers

Click here to sign up to join thousands of LAUSD students, family members, employees, and community members at our second annual 5K Fundraiser. This is the culminating event for LAUSD's Move It! Challenge, a campaign to promote the benefits of active living and healthy eating while raising important dollars to fund student activities like field trips and school athletic programs.
You can expect…

  • Fun and Exciting 5k and 1k Courses
  • Health and Nutrition Workshops and Booths
  • Interactive Kids Zone filled with Games, Sports Clinics, and More!
  • Dance/Aerobic Classes
  • Live Entertainment
  • Food Trucks and Farmer’s Market
  • Raffles and Giveaways
  • Celebrity Appearances
  • Free Stadium Parking

School Health Policy Roundtable Puts Heads Together

After a nearly one-year hiatus, the Los Angeles County School Health Policy Roundtable reconvened on October 30, 2014.  We were pleased to see a great turnout of 35 attendees with representation from 16 organizations and 7 school districts who came together to address policy development and shared advocacy to strengthen the operations and sustainability of school based health centers.  We established three workgroups that will work in between Roundtable meetings to advance a new set of adopted priorities:

  • Data and Evaluation Workgroup
  • Policy and Advocacy Workgroup
  • Service Integration Workgroup

For more information about the Roundtable or to participate, please contact Sang at


Ed Honowitz of Sen. Carol Liu's office facilitates discussion of the Policy and Advocacy Workgroup of the School Health Policy Roundtable.




Early Childhood Linkages to Wellness Program is Up and Walking

Pop quiz: What is the age at which children begin their academic journey?
a.  At birth
b.  6 months
c.  2 years
d.  When they enter pre-school
If you selected answer choice A (at birth), you've scored an A+ on this pop quiz. The Early Childhood Linkage to Wellness (ECLW) program is a partnership between The L.A. Trust and LAUSD to connect families to preconception, infant and toddler care, physical, mental and oral health care services offered by LAUSD Wellness Centers and broad community resources to enhance child wellness and development.  We are excited to see the program well into its first year with a strong team in place--making a real difference for our little 0-5 children.  Click here for more info and to view a Prezi about the program or contact Ezequiel De La Torre Arellano at  



Trust Co-Sponsors LARC Awareness Week 11/16 -11/20

Research has shown that as many as 33% of LAUSD's female student population (that's over 107,000 students) will become pregnant before the age of 20. Think of the ramifications of that statistic upon graduation rates! The L.A. Trust has been working with our Youth Advisory Board to provide peer to peer education around teen pregnancy prevention on our Wellness Center campuses. That work will continue. In addition, this year we are pleased to co-sponsor, along with CFHC, Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) Awareness Week! With an effectiveness rate of over 99%, LARCs can significantly reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy among our young student population. Click here to learn more about this safe and effective method of pregnancy prevention. And join us next week in promoting LARC Awareness on social media by using the hashtag #LoveMyLARC.



Maria Brenes 
Board of Directors
The L.A. Trust for Children's Health

Upon Whose Shoulders We Stand: 
Maria Brenes

Maria is the Executive Director of Innercity Struggle, a community based organization that works with youth and community residents to promote safe, healthy and non-violent communities in the Eastside of Los Angeles. She earned her Master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has worked with InnerCity Struggle since 2002. 
What prompted you to serve on the Board?  The opportunity arose to represent LAUSD Board member Monica Garcia on The L.A. Trust's Board. Upon discovering that the Trust's mission was very much in alignment with Innercity Struggle's in advocating for and preserving the safety net for low income children growing up in communities with limited resources, I was eager to serve. 

What is meaningful to you about the work the Trust is doing?  The L.A. Trust understands that there are underlying root causes as to why children don't succeed academically and why they are being impacted disproportionately by health disparities. I so appreciate that The L.A. Trust doesn't blame the families and children of our communities, but rather understands that systems need to change. That through social justice advocacy and integtrated services along with strategic education and awareness, we can empower our youth to become their own health advocates in preventing chronic diseases like diabetes. 
Looking ahead, what are you most excited about regarding the work of the Trust? I am excited about growing the network of Wellness Centers! We had such a successful win this year with the passage of the Wellness Now resolution -- a landmark investment on the part of the LAUSD Board --investing in health within the district in high need areas!  Leveraging the lessons learned from the first phase to ensure that this next rollout is even more successful will be a key role of the Trust, enabling us to grow this movement even more!

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The L.A. Trust,  
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