Pro Football Hall of Fame, Centene Corp. extend partnership to expand youth outreach

General Published on : 4/22/2024
  • Signature program ‘Strong Youth Strong Communities’ helps teens navigate challenges affecting mental wellness

With approximately 80 Canton-area high school students, two members of the most elite club in sports and several dignitaries on hand, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Centene Corporation on Monday announced an extension of their partnership that brings productive youth-focused messaging to schools across the country.

Centene-logo.jpgThe joint announcement included a mini-session of the signature Strong Youth Strong Communities (SYSC) program facilitated by Hall of Famers DARRELL GREEN and AENEAS WILLIAMS, along with SYSC ambassador Iman McFarland. They spoke to students from Canton McKinley, GlenOak and St. Thomas Aquinas high schools, addressing such topics as combating peer pressure, maintaining positive self-esteem, resisting dangerous temptations, using social media safely other issues that too often adversely affect teens’ mental well-being.

“Today we witnessed the power of the Strong Youth Strong Communities program and the positive effect it can have on teens,” said Jim Porter, president of the Hall of Fame. “We’re proud to extend our partnership with Centene to continue this relationship and bring these important and age-appropriate messages to more of our country’s youth over the next several years.”

“Centene and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s continued partnership aims to serve our nation’s critical, yet vulnerable, population – our youth,” said Jon Dinesman, executive vice president of external affairs at Centene. “Over the past seven years, we have engaged with thousands of children across the country, helping to create meaningful learning opportunities and teach important life skills. We are proud to expand our collaboration with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to continue improving the lives and emotional well-being of youth across the nation.”

Since its inception, SYSC has held 40 in-person “youth summits” in communities nationwide, engaging nearly 10,000 middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. Key partners for these summits are Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, mental health providers, National Urban League affiliates, colleges and universities, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Boys & Girls Clubs, state and local governments, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, law enforcement and other stakeholders whose mission includes promoting mental health awareness.

Representatives from Centene, its Ohio subsidiary Buckeye Health Plan, Canton and Ohio government, the Canton-area chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Greater Stark County Urban League also were among the attendees at the SYSC summit in Canton.

Part of a typical SYSC Summit encourages middle- and high school-age students to identify challenges and struggles they confront at school or in their home or community environment. With Hall of Famers Green, Williams and ANTHONY MUÑOZ (unable to attend Monday) and McFarland as regular facilitators, the summits emphasize such themes as resiliency, facing challenges and setting personal goals to guide the discussions that help students identify opportunities and a direction for positive change. At the end of related small-group breakout sessions, several students will share key take-aways from the summit.

“Our country’s youth face numerous mental health challenges,” Green has said in explaining his involvement in Strong Youth Strong Communities. The SYSC program evolved from one he had launched to address issues he was seeing play out. “It’s important to empower today’s students so they can best handle these challenges, lead healthy lives and support their peers.”

Under the extended partnership, SYSC – through Centene and its affiliated health care providers at the state level – and the Pro Football Hall of Fame will provide 12 youth summits, along with related Salute to Service programs focused on the military and first responders, through 2026.