Working to enhance women’s health – particularly women in at-risk populations – is part of the DNA of The Junior League, going back to our founding by Mary Harriman some 116 years ago.
So when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health approached AJLI to help support National Women’s Health Week (which kicked off on Mother’s Day and runs through May 20th), we said yes! In doing so, we’re in good company. Other national supporters include Hadassah, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, Susan G. Komen, and the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics.
While Junior Leagues in general strive to improve the lives of women and children, some Leagues have developed programs specifically focused on women’s health issues. These programs provide real value because statistics have shown that many women put the health care needs of their children and family before themselves and leave their health care needs untreated.
The Junior League of Ogden, for example, started a two-day health event called Women’s Health Connection in 2009. Today, partnering with Midtown Community Health Center, McKay-Dee Hospital and Weber State University, the annual event provides free diagnostic and treatment services to some 500 under- and non-insured women. The event fills an important hole in community health services for Weber County, the 4th largest county in Utah, by providing free mammograms, pap smears, dental, and depression screenings.
The Junior League of Oklahoma City addresses another vulnerable population with a program called Healthy Practices for Victims of Domestic Violence designed to provide guidance on choosing healthy lifestyle choices – including access to health services – to women who have suffered from domestic violence. Utilizing the Healthy People 2020 Initiative, JLOC volunteers facilitate weekly classes at the YWCA of Oklahoma City on health-related topics like food safety, nutrition and weight status, access to health services, sleep health and substance abuse. The volunteers also identify and bring in guest lecturers to cover specialized topics while participating in activities with the women attending classes and facilitating activities for their children who may also attend.
Other Junior League programs address women’s health issues as part of a focus on health of the family. For example, this July marks the 25th year that the Junior League of Salt Lake City will sponsor the Junior League Community Assistance and Resource Event (CARE) Fair, a two-day event for families needing routine medical, dental, and vision services along with community assistance information. Designed to overcome major barriers to accessing basic health care and human services, the Junior League CARE Fair brings together community agencies and medical service providers at one time and in one place. In addition to physical exams, including for medical issues of importance to women, there is screening for diabetes and cholesterol, mental health and hearing.
And, for the last five years, the Junior League of Philadelphia’s Empowering You Health Fair has partnered with Lankenau Medical Center, an acute care hospital and medical complex located just outside the western city limits of Philadelphia, to provide families with health screenings, health and wellness discussions, cooking demonstrations and activities for children. Screenings for adults include cholesterol, glucose, BMI, stroke, bone density and blood pressure. Dental screenings for children are provided by AJLI partner Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures.
The Junior League—working with community partners to empower women to make their health a priority.