As reported by the Watertown Times, June 22, 2006.

Governor Announces Grant for Health Center

MIDDLEBURY - Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that the Corporation for National & Community Service has awarded the Middlebury-based Northwestern Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC) $388,113 for the replication of its successful Youth Health Service Corps (YHSC) in Rhode Island and Mississippi.

Northwestern CT AHEC will subgrant this program in the first year in these two states so that youth around the nation can benefit.

"We are seeing worker shortages in so many areas of the health care industry," Gov. Rell said. "Youth Health Service Corps is doing a tremendous job here in Connecticut in getting the word out about the growing need for these jobs. More than 200 high school students throughout Connecticut have been trained to serve as volunteers in a health care setting where they can contribute to their community while learning about careers in health care.

"By generating a buzz about health care professions, especially among our high school students and low-income residents, the Corps is cultivating scores of future workers who may never have considered becoming a nurse, a radiologist, a respiratory therapist or a pharmacist. This represents the front line of our battle to preserve the quality of care we enjoy today," she said. "The Corps wisely focuses on a huge untapped resource to solve the worker shortages we are experiencing, and the success of this program needs to be shared with the rest of the nation so that the youth of America can profit from the work done by AHEC."

Youth Health Service Corps attracted national attention in April when President Bush visited Connecticut and presented the President's Volunteer Service Award to 16-year old Amargeet Singh, a junior at Waterbury's Crosby High School and a volunteer with the Corps. Since joining the corps in January 2005, Amargeet has volunteered more than 100 hours. He works every Saturday at the StayWell Health Center in the adult and pediatric clinics.

When disadvantaged youth enter YHSC, they choose to participate in one of four health care areas: emergency preparedness, nutrition, oral health or a specific area of the state's choosing.

"Governor Rell has been a big supporter of our programs and we are thrilled to receive this national recognition of our efforts," AHEC Executive Director Patricia Harrity said. "These funds represent a major vote of confidence in what we are doing here in Connecticut. We are providing solutions to a growing problem, and we are providing those solutions with enthusiasm and energy. Our momentum continues to build and we look forward to making similar successful strides in new parts of the country."

After the first year, 360 youths from three states will participate in the program, and by the end of year three the number of youths will more than quadruple to 1,320 students nationwide with 700 adult volunteers leading service-learning program.

The Northwestern Area Health Education Center is one of four regional centers of the Connecticut AHEC program of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, designed to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventative care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community/academic educational partnerships. Based in Middlebury, it serves communities in Litchfield County, Greater Waterbury and Greater Danbury.