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New Partnership Introduces Students to Behavioral Health Careers

Equipping future leaders in the behavioral health field

Mental health and overall health go hand-in-hand. That’s why Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is continuing its commitment to mental health with its latest partnership.

Arkansas Blue Cross is partnering with the Greater Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Little Rock School District to form the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Academy of Health at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School.

The partnership will allow students interested in mental and behavioral health-related carers to gain real world experience through guest lectures, career mentors, industry tours, and job shadowing.

During the announcement in March, Arkansas Blue Cross President and Chief Executive Officer Curtis Barnett shared that the partnership is a natural fit because of the company’s commitment to overall health.

“Physical health and mental health are intimately and completely connected,” he told the crowd that gathered for the announcement.

The Academy of Health is one of the participants in the Academies of Central Arkansas, an initiative of the Little Rock Regional Chamber being implemented in all four public school districts in Pulaski County.

The Academies’ model of teaching and learning transforms the public high school experience by blending core academies with career and technical education. Students better engage with their math, science, English, and social studies when taught through the lens of an occupation or industry presented by a local business partner.

Partnership will help students with their career aspirations

Zoe Shepherd, a ninth grader who is participating in Parkview’s Academy, spoke during the March announcement and said her future career aspirations drew her to the program.

“I want to be a pediatric physical therapist when I grow up,” Zoe said. “I know physical and mental health are directly connected, and the opportunities this partnership will provide me will better equip me to serve my patients in the future.”

Little Rock Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Chesshir applauded the role Arkansas Blue Cross will have in the Academy and encouraged other businesses to join the effort.

“We need businesses engaged in our public high schools to provide relevance and real-life examples to students’ college and career preparation. Arkansas Blue Cross understands the important role it plays in that regard and is a shining example of that commitment. They are one of many companies stepping up to partner and lead the charge in transforming our public high schools in Pulaski County.”

Little Rock School District Superintendent Dr. Jermall Wright said the Academy model provides “21st century educational experiences that make learning real and relevant. This partnership is particularly timely in that it highlights desirable career pathways while simultaneously meeting the needs of our students and community and addressing today’s challenges.”

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield's partnership with Parkview Arts & Science magnet school will prepare students for careers in behavioral health.

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