The Early Years
In 1994, a steering committee representing over 20 local agencies in New Hanover County was formed to address critical issues of concern in the community. In particular, two key issues were identified:
- The unserved and underserved adolescents in New Hanover and surrounding counties.
- The increasing risks of poor health outcomes and avoidable deaths among adolescents.
The committee concluded that the creation of a specialty center and staff was the answer and, in 1995, Wilmington Health Access for Teens (WHAT) was incorporated under the direction and leadership of Founder and Executive Director Emeritus, Connie Parker who, today, is the Founder and former Executive Director of the North Carolina School Community Health Alliance.
With start-up support from the Cape Fear Area United Way, The Duke Endowment and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as in-kind support from New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation and sponsorship, WHAT, opened its doors at its main facility on Oleander Drive in 1997.
Since then, major milestones for WHAT include:
1999 – WHAT opened its first school-based health center (SBHC) at the former Lakeside High School (re-named to Mary S. Mosley Performance Learning Center in 2009).
2002 – WHAT’s main facility on Oleander Drive was expanded with support from the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation.
2004 – WHAT opened its second SBHC at New Hanover High School in downtown Wilmington.
2008 – WHAT opened its third SBHC at Ashley High School.
2011 – The New Hanover County Board of Education elected to close the Mary S. Mosley Performance Learning Center and, consequently, WHAT had to close its doors at its SBHC located within the school.
2013 – WHAT opened its newest SBHC at Laney High School, New Hanover County’s largest high school.
2016 – WHAT merged with Coastal Horizons Center and opened its newest SBHC at Hoggard High School.
WHAT remains the only integrated school-based health care provider in Wilmington, North Carolina exclusively for adolescents and young adults, and continues to build strong, collaborative relationships within the community, the region and statewide.