Ending Social Isolation by Building Empathy and Compassion
Transforming Communities, Innovations & Initiatives
Physical health is important, but there's so much more to whole health. Centene values the social and emotional well-being of all students and is proud to support initiatives like No One Eats Alone Day. Developed by the nonprofit organization Beyond Differences, the student-led event will be celebrated in more than 2,500 schools this year.
The annual event empowers tweens and teenagers to change the culture in their schools through special presentations, classroom activities, brainstorming sessions, and student leadership training. School-wide presentations outline the concept of social isolation, including how it can affect all aspects of a child's life.
Social isolation is linked to:
- shorter lives
- cognitive decline
- increased rates of cardiovascular disease
- lung problems
- suicidal ideation
No One Eats Alone Day stresses positive prevention tactics and is targeted at 5th - 8th graders across the country. National No One Eats Alone Day, celebrated on February 15th this year, was specifically chosen to coincide with Valentine's Day to emphasize the importance of friendship, connection, and inclusion.
The initiative stands by two major principles:
- First, the youth are in charge. By empowering tweens and teens to help change the culture of middle school, they do so enthusiastically and, most importantly, it sticks.
- Second, make it local. Each school has its own traditions and its own charm.
Many of Centene's health plans participated in the initiative this year, hosting events at middle schools in Florida, Kansas, Illinois, and Indiana, among other states.
"Fidelis Care is proud to work with the Watervliet City School District to foster a culture where all students feel accepted and valued," Pam Hassen, Fidelis Care Chief Member Engagement Officer, added. "Facilitating better health for children and their families is our top priority, and together we can create positive, lasting change."
"When the students discussed how they had felt isolated in the past with each other I was inspired by their empathy for one another," said Michelle Gines, Community Relations Representative for Sunflower Health Plan. "It was even better to hear how they were going to make a difference going forward using the tools from No One Eats Alone Day."
"It's tough to be in middle school, tough to fit in, make you feel like you're included in a group," said Elizabeth Sons with Managed Health Services. "Everybody's different. I think it's hard for students to learn to make those differences shine and stand out. So social isolation is really making sure kids in a social atmosphere like school aren't by themselves, that they have friends to sit with. I can invite them to our table because we're always accepting new friends to talk to, new people to talk to."
At the end of each event, students are invited to pledge to help end social isolation in their schools by singing their name to a banner.
Centene is proud to support No One Eats Alone Day by inspiring youth to end social isolation in middle schools across the country. Building empathy and compassion is a lifelong skill.