Giving Kids a Healthy Start
Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills staff donate 1,200 backpacks to help increase equity in education
Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills employees and their unit-based teams recently contributed 1,200-plus backpacks filled with school supplies as part of their annual charitable collection for schoolchildren.
This gift was delivered to 2 Title I schools in the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills service area: Chatsworth Park Urban Planning Magnet Elementary School (K-5) and Rio Real Elementary School (K-8) in Oxnard. Title I schools are high-need schools where more than 40% of the student body is considered low income.
Chatsworth Park Urban Planning Magnet Elementary School
Murtaza Sanwari, senior vice president and area manager, and Gail Knight, chief administrative officer, Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills, and the backpack distribution team visited Chatsworth Park Elementary School on Aug. 5 to deliver 400 backpacks. Employees from the Labor Management Partnership, Admitting, Nephrology, Services and Access, Public Affairs, and Community Health also participated in the event.
Pleasantly surprised by the large number of backpacks, Principal Rachelle Ratner said she felt overwhelmed by the generosity of Kaiser Permanente employees and their eagerness for every student to have a backpack on their first day of school.
Sanwari commented to the crowd that Kaiser Permanente employees volunteer with a purpose, and that the donation was an expression of the health care organization’s mission to improve the health of the communities it serves.
“Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills is committed to addressing upstream factors that impact health, and educational attainment is strongly correlated with overall health. Our work with schools can promote healthier communities for lifelong health and success.”
-- Murtaza Sanwari, senior vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills
Rio Real Elementary School
On Aug. 9, various individuals from Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills visited Rio Real Elementary School in Oxnard to celebrate the delivery of 800 backpacks. Attendees included Gail Knight, Richard Trogman, chief operating officer, Khanh Nguyen, area chief financial officer, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, as well as leaders from Market Street medical offices, and employees from Services and Access, Diversity and Language Services, Public Affairs, and Community Health.
The Kaiser Permanente group was greeted by the school principal, assistant principal, and the assistant superintendent of school and system improvement. Rio Real Principal María Hernández said about 75% of the school’s students are eligible for the free lunch program, and that the students will benefit greatly from the free backpacks and school supplies. Her school is unique in that it is the only dual immersion language K-8 school in Ventura County. From kindergarten through eighth grade, students learn in both English and Spanish.
Knight told the Rio Real school leaders that Kaiser Permanente employees surpassed their backpack collection goal, donating backpacks and supplies out of their own desire to help ensure “that every student would start the year with a backpack.”