Gift Helps At-Risk Teens Find a Calm Place

High school students receive acupuncture to help them stress less and focus on their studies.

Low-income students are being helped with free acupuncture treatments through donations to NorthShore’s Integrative Medicine (IM) Program. To date, more than 400 treatments have been provided to students at Evanston Township High School and patients at Deerfield Outpatient Adolescent Center and Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook. Some of the students face multiple challenges, including unstable living situations.

Philanthropic support from patients, community members and organizations like the Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield helps to continue the services, which assist students with anxiety, depression, insomnia and other conditions such as digestive disorders and severe headaches. Students receiving acupuncture treatment often report that they “feel calm” and “focus more on school.”

“As a charitable organization, we’re pleased to support the underserved through this program,” said David Birkenstein, speaker chairman of the Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield. “NorthShore is very grateful for the Rotary’s gift,” said Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, Medical Director for the IM Program at NorthShore, which depends on donations from patients and community members to provide the services. “We couldn’t offer this program without philanthropic support.”

At Evanston Township High School, students must meet a demonstrated financial need requirement in order to participate in the program. About 1,200 students out of nearly 4,000 qualify for a free or reduced-cost lunch. Students are typically referred to the program by a school counselor or nurse.

Rena Zaid, MSOM, L.Ac, is the NorthShore clinician who currently provides services at the three locations. In explaining how acupuncture can help a student, Zaid first demonstrates how hair-thin needles are placed in the earlobe or other body points (depending on what is being treated). She then explains how acupuncture helps regulate the body, improves sleep, helps people feel more balanced, and can lessen feelings of anxiety and depression.

Zaid says the students are very open to the painless procedure, and she has seen many of them benefit from the program. “I had one young woman who couldn’t sleep, was chronically late or absent, and had behavioral issues in school, and didn’t want to come to school. She loved acupuncture and credits it with helping to stabilize her mood so that she could focus on school. She went on to graduate and attend college.”

If you would like to learn more or support NorthShore’s IM Program, please contact Lisa Rietmann, Director of Philanthropy, at lrietmann@northshore.org or by calling 224.364.7230.

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