Forest Park High School’s Mike Pullum earns spot on Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Honor Roll
Posted on 12/11/2019
Mike Pullman with 10 of his studentsForest Park High School Art Teacher Mike Pullum earned the distinction of being named to the Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Honor Roll. This award program recognizes individuals who champion sustainable, healthy school environments. Pullum achieved this through his sponsorship of Forest Park High’s Youth in Action (YIA) program.

YIA is a 32-week after-school program that teaches young people how to use photography as a social justice tool and supports them in articulating and addressing the health needs they witness every day in their community. During weekly meetings, Pullum encourages students to share stories using their own, unique voices. Students are exposed to the ways that storytelling, photography, and art can shape public policy, health, and well-being, by creating narratives that others react to. Students use their stories to advocate for greater safety and cohesion in their families and communities.

Forest Park senior Julianna Bolivar explained, “This program really helped me reflect on what my life should look like. How can it be better? How can I improve my community?” She adds, “Youth in Action is focused on allowing young people to have a voice in their community. We’re also able to be grant-makers. We choose a local organization that will focus on the issues that we’re concerned about.”

Pullum shared, “These students are often told that they are able to make a difference, but they normally don’t have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions in their community. So, to see them be able to say, ‘we are going to decide what to do with this money,’ is huge to them.”

Each year, as part of the YIA program, Kaiser Permanente tasks students with identifying a challenge in their community and provides each group with a $10,000 grant to fund an organization that addresses that challenge. For the 2018-19 school year, Pullum’s YIA students chose The House INC., a nationally recognized youth development program and organizer of out-of-school time programs for pre-teens and teens in the Greater Washington, D.C. area.

“Our group chose to focus on socioeconomic security and mental health in minority youth. The House INC. was chosen because it most affectively addressed these concerns,” added Pullum. “The students are excited to begin research on prospective nonprofits to work with for this year’s grant award. “