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Genesee Health Plan and Sovita Credit Union kick off 9th Annual Health Heritage Essay Contest in honor of Black History Month

Genesee County students can write an essay about family health history for the chance to win a variety of prizes

Featured photo: 2023 Contest Winners, CHW mentors and teachers

FLINT – Genesee Health Plan (GHP) is accepting entries for its Ninth Annual Health Heritage Essay Contest which is open to all Genesee County students in grades 5-12. Sovita Credit Union is the contest sponsor. Students are asked to talk to their family members about their family health history and write an essay about their current health, what they learned and their goals for a healthy future.

The contest began in February of 2015 to coincide with Black History Month, in partnership with the National Center for African American Health Consciousness to increase awareness of differences in health and health outcomes among African Americans. Initially, the contest was promoted to Flint Public Schools’ grades 3-12 through GHP’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) who work in Flint Schools to assist students, their parents and community members access health coverage and connect families with community resources.

The contest has evolved to include students’ exploration of their family health history from all races/ethnicities, creating an intergenerational conversation about the importance of health and knowing your health heritage.

The contest is held each February in observance of Black History Month while also celebrating family heritage.

“With our team of Community Health Workers in Flint Schools, this is a unique and fun way for our mentors to work with their mentees, not only to explore their health heritage but to help further develop the skills they are learning in the classroom,” said Sherika Finklea, GHP Community Health Worker coordinator.

Finklea added: “Our number one goal is having the student begin a conversation with their family about their health so they can set achievable, healthy goals for the future.”

The specific essay guidelines are outlined below and can also be found at

Elementary (grades 5 and 6 only) & Middle/Junior High School

  • Elementary: 200-350 words
  • Middle/Junior High School: 350-500 words
  • Essay must be typed or clearly hand-written
  • First place winner will receive a $200 gift card; second place winner will receive a $100 gift card

High School

  • 400-600 words
  • Essay must be typed
  • First place essay contest winner will receive a $400 gift card; second place winner will receive a $200 gift card

“Sovita Credit Union is honored to continue its partnership with GHP through this essay contest,” said Jen Shew, Sovita Credit Union director of marketing.

Shew added: “The contest encourages students to explore their family health history at an early age, begin the conversation with their family and hopefully continue the conversation after the contest is over. We are grateful for the administrators, teachers and school employees who encourage students to participate in the essay contest and hope this year’s contest will be the largest one yet.”

All essay submissions are due by Monday, April 22. Contest winners will be recognized at a later date.

For more information including specific contest rules and guidelines, visit

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