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Student Assembly
Section Newsletter
Spring 2005

President's Pen

 
Exams are finished. School is out. Many of us are taking summer classes, researching for dissertations, starting internships and residencies, or taking a MUCH needed vacation. For those of you graduating, CONGRATULATIONS!!! It is a time of celebration and starting down new pathways and continuing toward your career goals. Please remember that as your membership may expire soon, you are eligible for the new APHA transitional member price, which is at a reduced rate for those who have just completed school. This new membership category will be available for APHA student members entering the workforce within a few months.

It has also been a busy spring for the APHA Student Assembly. Based on our official change in APHA’s constitution, we have created a new set of bylaws which were voted on by you. The APHA Student Assembly board also met in late April for a strategic planning retreat, where we revisited our mission, vision, and strategic goals for the next three years. The goals created centered on increasing our funding programs, communication, national student representation and external visibility, and strengthening APHA-SA’s current programs. Increasing value to your membership continues to be the main focus of APHA-SA’s goals.

The month of May also brings the 2005-2006 elections of APHA and APHA-SA leadership. Beginning in mid-May and continuing through June, voting will take place for the APHA-SA Chair Elect, Secretary, Secretary Elect, Treasurer, and Treasurer Elect. Two of these positions, Secretary Elect and Treasurer Elect, were added as part of the new bylaws. These positions will be “in-training” positions, with the elected members becoming Secretary and Treasurer in the second year. The Treasurer Elect will help compile and maintain a funder directory and help the Development Committee in writing and reviewing grants and operating fundraisers. The Secretary Elect position will focus on public relations and marketing and help compile and maintain website information when a Website Subcommittee Chair is not present. With these new positions, APHA-SA will be able to better support our growing number of programs and membership needs.

This summer will bring continued change for the APHA Student Assembly. We hope to “go live” with our new Web site, which will be fully updated and include many new features. Also, the National Mentoring Program Web site, with APHA’s help, should go live in conjunction with the new APHA-SA Web site. Both of these tools will better enhance your membership. Be on the lookout for further communication, which will announce these great new Web sites!

On June 1, registration began for the APHA 133rd Annual Meeting in New Orleans, from Nov. 5-9, 2005. This year also marks the first Annual Student Meeting, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4, prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. This student-specific conference, Beyond the Classroom: Training the Next Generation of Public Health Professionals to Eliminate Health Disparities, will focus on health disparities and opportunities for students to work toward eliminating these problems. As registration is free and limited to 150 students, I encourage all of you to apply, as soon as possible. The leadership at APHA Student Assembly has been listening to our members, and trying to create programs which will benefit you.

Please help to ensure the continued success of our organization, as we continue to grow and evolve into the premier national public health student organization. Your membership support is necessary in driving us toward our future achievements.

A Weekly Start to a Healthier America: Public Health Students Develop Meatless Monday Campaigns

 
Rebecca Love, a graduate student at George Washington University, has been awarded a $5,000 grant by The Meatless Monday Campaign, Inc., to bring the Meatless Monday message to two children's health centers in Washington, D.C. Rebecca is one of six graduate public health students selected by Meatless Monday, a non-profit organization in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to implement local communication programs to help increase public participation in the campaign.

Meatless Monday is a national public health campaign to help Americans prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer – the three leading causes of death in America. The campaign emphasizes taking one step each week to increasing fruit and vegetable intake and decreasing saturated fat consumption, by encouraging the public not to eat highly saturated fat meat and meat products once a week.

"Through this grant, I hope to increase awareness of childhood obesity and promote family dietary change targeting families at two Washington, D.C. children's health centers,” said Rebecca. “Obesity disproportionately affects minority populations, and the prevalence of obesity in Washington, D.C .has risen from 15.2 percent to 19.9 percent between 1991 and 2001. Furthermore, 12.3 percent of low-income children in federally funded maternal and child health programs in D.C. are overweight.”

Rebecca's project focuses on using health centers as an outlet for educating families about Meatless Monday and healthier eating. Through this project, Rebecca will inform the health center staff about the Meatless Monday approach to reducing saturated fat intake and regularly visit the health centers to share meatless recipes and provide health information. "I hope to increase family awareness of healthy diets and provide families with tools and educational materials, such as healthy eating coloring books, recipes, Web sites, and lists of local Farmer's Markets to promote consumption of fruits and vegetables among children."

For the Meatless Monday Health Communications scholar program, students were asked to submit written proposals for desired projects to increase public participation in the Meatless Monday campaign. The competition was open to graduate students from schools of public health in the United States.

Other grant recipients included students from: Drexel University, University of Alabama, University of California at Berkeley, George Washington University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

“We were impressed by the creativity, expansive thinking and intellectual curiosity these students demonstrated in seeking to explore this particular health and nutritional challenge at the grassroots level,” explains Sid Lerner, chairman of The Meatless Monday Campaign. “Bringing these inspired ideas to life will help increase awareness of better health and nutritional practices and mobilize community support for the campaign.”

Advocating moderation, Meatless Monday’s goal is to reduce American consumption of saturated fat by 15 percent by 2010. The Meatless Monday Campaign follows the recommendations of the dietary guidelines of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association. Twenty-eight public health schools, including Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, support The Meatless Monday Campaign.

The campaign provides tools and resources to help Americans cut saturated fat from their diet one day a week. Beyond Monday, Meatless Monday helps Americans make other healthy lifestyle choices, too.

To find out more about Meatless Monday, visit <http://www.meatlessmonday.com>.

SOPHE Student Award Opportunities: A Boost for Emerging Public Health Professionals

 
As a full-time student nearing the end of a graduate program, I think of myself as an “emerging” public health professional. I find myself in the throes of finding time, beyond research, teaching, and working on a dissertation, to engage in my own professional development. How does one find time to engage in activities beyond those required within graduate programs? How do you muster the extra energy (and lose the extra sleep) to write additional essays and papers, submit articles for publication, or apply for awards? The challenge lies in the realization that the hard work and extra hours fuel the very initiatives that we as public health professionals believe in and rely on in promoting and developing our work; leadership, collaboration, advocacy, and continuing education. This is what keeps our work, hope, and inspiration thriving.

As a new public health education professional entering the last year of my doctoral program, I perceive my role in such initiatives as just beginning. This explains the main impetus for writing this very article. Last year had the honor of receiving the Vivian Drenckhahn Award from the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). As part of my essay, I indicated that as I move forward, my goal is not solely the development of my career as a single individual, but the level of contribution I can make, along with others in the field. I made a commitment to be a voice for public health education and promotion and have since been offered the opportunity to do so as a member of the SOPHE Awards Committee.

If you are not familiar with SOPHE, it is an independent, international organization made up of a diverse membership of health education professionals and students. The Society’s mission is to provide leadership to the profession of health education promotion to contribute to the health of all people through advances in health education theory and research, excellence in practice, and the promotion of public policies conducive to health. Likewise within its mission, SOPHE seeks to provide leadership through a code of ethics, standards for professional preparation, research, and practice; professional development; and public outreach.

As part of its dedication to professional development, specifically for students, SOPHE offers a number of opportunities, in the form of funding, for full-time students pursuing a degree in health education. As a past award recipient, and now a member of the SOPHE awards committee, I could not pass up the chance to motivate other students to apply. There are four unique award opportunities offered: the Graduate Student Research Paper; the SOPHE/CDC Student Fellowship in Unintentional Injury Prevention; the SOPHE/ATSDR Student Fellowship in Environmental Health Promotion; and the Vivian Drenckhahn Scholarship.

The purpose of the Graduate Student Research Paper is to foster quality graduate student research and provide a mechanism by which to recognize outstanding graduate students for creative and innovative research.

TheSOPHE/CDC Student Fellowship in Unintentional Injury Prevention, funded by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, is a one-year fellowship designed to recognize, assist and train graduate students working on research or practice-based unintentional injury prevention or violence prevention projects from the perspective of health education or behavioral sciences.

The SOPHE/ATSDR Student Fellowship in Environmental Health Promotion is designed to recognize, assist, and train students working on research or practice-based projects in environmental health education/health promotion or environmental justice from the perspective of health education or the behavioral sciences.

Last, but not at all least, the Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship provides support to both undergraduate and graduate level full-time students in pursuit of the a degree in health education. It recognizes students demonstrating a commitment to addressing the public’s health through a career in health education and academic excellence.

All of these award opportunities offer a stipend or scholarship award. Students are also provided with complimentary registration at the SOPHE Annual Meeting (in New Orleans, this year), as well as recognition at the awards dinner, on SOPHE’s Web site, and in their newsletter, “News and Views.”

It is an honor to be considered for any of these awards and a learning experience to just apply. If you are interested, feel motivated, and want to go above and beyond, go online and visit SOPHE at <www.sophe.org>, go to “Member Area,” and you can access the details of each award application process by clicking on “Awards and Scholarships.” Take advantage and apply; the deadline is July 31. You will boost your motivation and open doors for your future.

Building the Bridge: Unique Experiences From Bridging the Gap Between Public Health and Medicine

 
“Service is not as much about good actions, as it is about good feelings; creating them in others, and experiencing them within. It is not so much about 'doing', as it is about 'being'; being one's best, being one's higher self. Love, is the only true doer. Good deeds, like good works, are but priceless opportunities to experience and share our being's deepest nature: Joy” - Author Anonymous

In the area of public health we are committed to the pursuit of knowledge through opportunities that serve to enhance both the theory and practice of public health. We are encouraged to support and engage in research directed toward such activities as health promotion, environmental health, disease control, and health care delivery in order to ensure a greater quality of life for people and their communities. Medicine, referred to as the practical science of preventing and curing diseases, encompasses both knowledge and the application of that knowledge (Wikipedia, 2005). The profession of medicine refers to the social structure of the group of people formally trained to apply that knowledge to treat disease, while the science of medicine is the knowledge of body systems and diseases (Wikipedia, 2005).

Why then is it necessary to build a bridge between two parallel yet different practices? Improving the quality of life for individuals at a personal and community level has been my experience volunteering at the Houston Outreach Medicine Education and Social Services (H.O.M.E.S.) Clinic in Houston, Texas. Unique in its operation, the H.O.M.E.S. Clinic is an inter-disciplinary, student-run clinic where students from University of Texas at Houston Medical School and School of Public Health, Baylor College of Medicine, and University of Houston College of Pharmacy work together to deliver care to the medically underserved homeless population in Houston, Texas. H.O.M.E.S., operating under a blanket of collaborations with community organizations in Houston, provides quality, accessible health care and social services to the homeless, while providing a unique learning experience for students from the different disciplines. The intrinsic reward that I have received from the delivery of health education, health promotion, providing social service and medical referrals and playing a role in the delivery medical care to the patients we serve at the clinic is ineffable.

Each Sunday, students come to the clinic and are placed in a role outside of their normal roles as students; they become leaders, health educators, and health professionals. Being able to experience the teaching variabilities from the medical and pharmacy disciplines has not only helped me to understand but also refine the content of future interventions I wish to develop later in my career. From a public health to medical standpoint, students from the different disciplines learn what the social, behavioral and environmental determinants of health are and how the interplay between the three can affect both mental and physical health. This is what I often see presented at the H.O.M.E.S. Clinic, and the medical and pharmacy students have provided insight to better help me to understand their frustrations, barriers and contributions to health care delivery. In turn, these take away experience are what I will take into consideration when planning programs, developing interventions and solving certain behavioral public health problems such as chronic disease prevention and management. The equation of delivery of care includes an understanding of the individual, the environment, and the provider. Subtracting or excluding one from the equation could result in a less than favorable amount of delivery of care, however including all of these components may account for a greater delivery of care.

When then should we build this bridge? My experiences and appreciation for the H.O.M.E.S. Clinic and its purpose has led me to believe that the first stones should be laid at the student level. We will all remain students forever since we will continue to learn new things as we prosper throughout our respective careers; therefore, it’s never to late to begin this new construction. Whether being in public health or medicine, if we wish to improve the lives of those who we have vowed to serve, then we must envision ourselves as the catalyst for change and begin to build that bridge.

Works Cited: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. (2005). Retrieved April 14, 2005 from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine>.

H.O.M.E.S. Web site for viewing <http://homeless-healthcare.org/homesprogram/aboutus.htm>.

Lesbians and Health ~A Human Rights Matter~

 
It is admirably stated in Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that all individuals are born free and entitled to certain rights and dignities simply by virtue of being human. Regarding health, the most important human right can be found in Article 25 of the UDHR, which states that everyone has the right to adequate health and wellbeing. Moreover, Article Two of the UDHR emphasizes that there should be no discrimination of any kind on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Yet in many nations, certain individuals are denied basic rights such as access to health care simply because of their sexual orientation. Without the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Declaration, gays and lesbians around the world are held to a separate, unequal standard and often struggle to earn basic human rights.

The term “lesbian” includes not only the sexual orientation of a woman but also the identity she creates based on variables such as psychological responses, cultural values, and societal expectations (Dibble & Roberts, 2002). Solarz (1999) states that lesbians range from 2 to 10 percent of the United States population, but they exist in every region, country, religion, culture, race, age group, class, and part of society. While it is true, regardless of sexual orientation, that all women are susceptible to human rights violations, epidemiological data supports the assertion that lesbians have a higher risk because of the probability for certain types of health problems than heterosexual women.

Many argue that because lesbians are women, they are already in a protected group with rights concerning the welfare of women. All too often, women’s rights focus solely on sexual and reproductive concerns. By linking sexual rights to heterosexual reproductive rights, lesbians are often excluded. While lesbians may have reproductive health concerns, connecting one to the other does not address the most significant health concerns for lesbians such as breast and cervical cancer.

Population-based research suggests that patterns of health for homosexual women may differ significantly when compared to those of heterosexual women even though there are no known biological differences between lesbians and heterosexual women (Aaron, Markovic, Danielson, Honnold, Janosky, & Schmidt, 2001). Rather, lesbians have a higher probability of developing breast and cervical cancer because of common risk factors that exist in the lesbian community (Cochran, Mays, Bowen, Gage, Bybee, Goldstein, Robinson, Rankow, & White 2001; Rankow and Tessaro, 1998; Burnett, Steakley, Slack, Roth, & Lerman, 1999). These risk factors include unhealthy styles of living such as poor nutrition and exercise, and excessive tobacco, alcohol and drug use. In addition, other factors include the age when women bear children, breastfeed and the frequency of doctor visits, which often ensure preventative education (Rankow, 1995).

Preventative behaviors are necessary because early detection of health problems can reduce or halt the onset of disease. However, lesbians are less likely to visit health care providers than their heterosexual counterparts. In one study, 84 percent of lesbians reported strong hesitancy in returning to visit the gynecologist (Valanis, Bowen, Bassford, Whitlock, Charney, and Carter, 2000). Without access to health care, information about health promotion and disease prevention is often jeopardized.

Numerous factors determine whether lesbians actively seek access to health care. Studies show that due to a lack of health insurance, lesbians often do not seek medical attention. An analysis from the National Lesbian Health Care Survey (NLHS) reveals a correlation between being lesbian and not having health insurance. In addition to the financial barriers, lesbians face communication barriers with health care providers (Appleby and Anastas, 1998). Past negative experiences with medical providers often discourage lesbians from seeking health care services, and when they do, lesbians often are not open about their sexual orientation, identity, and behavior (Saulnier, 2002). Further, it seems health care providers are not properly trained to ask questions regarding sexual orientation. Ignorance of risk factors is another reason lesbians do not pursue medical attention unless it is an emergency. Roberts and Sorensen (1999) assert that most lesbians utilize health care services only when deemed absolutely necessary.

Lack of access to health care infringes upon a basic human right to which all people are entitled. Not only are homosexual women disregarded within the health care system, they are also less likely than heterosexual women to seek out preventative strategies. Given the importance of early detection and the heightened risk factors, it is critical that lesbians seek annual medical attention. And without inclusion for lesbians and human rights, the poor health of lesbians is accepted. Only by guaranteeing human rights to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we can begin to break down the barriers to health care for lesbians.

References

Appleby G. and Anastas J. (1998). Not Just a Passing Phase: Social Work with Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Aaron, D., Markovic, N., Danielson, M., Honnold, J., Janosky, J., Schmidt, N. (2001). Behavioral Risk Factors for Disease and Preventive Health Practices among Lesbians. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 972-975.

Burnett, C., Steakley, C., Slack, R., Roth, J., and Lerman, C. (1999). Patterns of breast cancer screening among lesbians at increased risk for breast cancer. Women & Health, 29 (4), 35-55.

Cochran, S., Mays, V., Bowen, D., Gage, S., Bybee, R., Goldstein, R., Robinson, A., Rankow, E., and White, J. (2001). Cancerrelated risk indicators and preventative screening behaviors among lesbian and bisexual women. American Journal of Public Health. 91 (4) 591-7.

Dibble, S. L. and Roberts, S. (2002). Risk factors for ovarian cancer: Lesbian and heterosexual women. Oncology Nursing Forum, 29, 1-7.

Rankow, E. (1995). Lesbian health issues for the primary care provider. Journal of Family Practice, 40, 486-496.

Rankow, E. and Tessaro, I. (1998). Cervical cancer risk and papanicolaou screening in a sample of lesbian and bisexual women. Journal of Family Practice, 47, 139-143.

Roberts, S. and Sorensen, L. (1999). Health related behaviors and cancer screening of lesbians. Women and Health, 28 (4), 1-12.

Saulnier, C. F. (2002). Deciding who to see: Lesbians discuss their preferences in health and mental healthcare providers. Social Work, 47, 355-366.

Solarz A, ed. (1999). Lesbian Health: Current Assessment and Directions for the Future. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Valanis, B., Bowen, D., Bassford, T., Whitlock, E., Charney, P., and Carter, R. (2000). Sexual orientation and health. Family Medicine, 9 (9). 843-853.

Public Health Students: Critical Members of the Interdisciplinary International Health Team

Whoever said international research was easy? This Spring Break 2005, 10 University of Florida public health students had the unique opportunity to participate in five international health outreach trips to the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico.

Calling ourselves Team Office of Global Health – Master of Public Health, or Team OGH-MPH for short, we initiated our pre-trip planning and team selection in September 2004. Little did we know that this inaugural journey would change our lives and impact our public health perspective forever.

First- and second-year public health students collaborated to define our public health function in respect to the medical clinics and care to community members. In previous years, the medical model predominated the clinic setting. Now, with medical, nursing, pharmacy and public health students, an integrated interdisciplinary model was utilized to improve long-term health outcomes.

Five intense months followed with weekly meetings and constant team communication. Basic literature searches and communication with in-country health professionals described endemic health conditions, from which we developed educational interventions for tuberculosis, diarrheal diseases, sanitation and improved hygiene, and sexually-and mosquito-transmitted diseases.

We decided to serve an epidemiologic and health educator purpose, so Team OGH-MPH divided into assessment and education groups. First, we created 17-question baseline assessments on knowledge and perspectives of tuberculosis symptomology and disease process. Second, we designed health pamphlets with large pictures and few words to distribute to our target population. Both interventions were translated and backtranslated into three Spanish dialects and Creole as well as pre-tested in-country.

Since not all students were proficient in Spanish or Creole, we provided tutoring in Spanish and Creole pronunciation so they could truly appreciate the culture and be able to conduct surveys in the native language during intervention protocol.

Spring Break approached, and our fingers were crossed as our team dispersed into respective health professional teams for one week. These trips, we would find, had something to teach us beyond our textbooks.

Our project preparation proved to be successful, even though our intervention protocols did not proceed as planned. We used professional judgment on participant selection for assessments and interactive educational sessions for crowded and noisy clinics. First, our baseline surveys were effective to provide demographic statistics as well as patient understanding of endemic tuberculosis. Semi-structured interviews with community key informants raised critical concerns of the present situation of public health within the community. Team OGH-MPH distributed incentives (patient “goodie bags”) to those selected individuals who agreed to participate in our assessment. Second, education differed in intervention style, but varied between one-on-one and small to large group sessions with the target population. Public health students interacted with and educated approximately 2,500 community members during the clinic.

In my eyes, our most important achievements have little to do with tangible data to analyze and disseminate. Utilizing key public health skills, Team OGH-MPH demonstrated the role of public health in the community clinic setting. Dedicated project planning and teamwork effectively enhanced our impact in the field to our medical team members and clinic population.

One valuable lesson learned was that international research requires collaborative teamwork, but may not always follow the exact protocol. This interdisciplinary model allowed team participants to understand the critical role of each team member and overall contribution to health outcomes. A second key lesson was the significance of cultural competence and how the role of cultural cues and body language influenced personal interactions with our target population.

Our public health students have opened their eyes to a new world of science and together with human compassion may lead to a positive and healthy community outlook.

Helena J. Chapman, Coordinator of Team OGH-MPH, is a graduate student at the University of Florida in public health epidemiology, focusing her health interests in vector-borne disease in Hispanic communities and chronic disease in the geriatric population. She can be contacted at <hchapman@phhp.ufl.edu>.

Painting Smiles Across Los Angeles County

 
Nothing shows a child’s joy quite like a smile spread from ear to ear. A beaming smile is a marker of one’s personality and outlook on life and in addition can affect the lives of surrounding peers by creating a positive atmosphere. Los Angeles is well-known across the nation as a prime location of celebrities who visit their dentist for full mouth veneers and tooth whitening. Often undisclosed to the public are the needs of the other side of Los Angeles, the citizens who do not have access to care. Obstacles that prevent access to care include barriers such as lack of income, transportation, and the inability to take time off work to bring their children to health care providers.

The UCLA Saturday Children’s Venice Clinic has been addressing this issue for the past 30 years. This work is done under the supervision of 11 student directors, who in addition to organizing clinics, donate their time to organize other site visits in Los Angeles. School visits are the first step in the ladder to Venice Clinic. A group of 15 dental students, armed with brightly colored puppets with monstrous teeth and enormous toothbrushes, drive to elementary schools on afternoons to teach children the importance of proper oral hygiene. Dental volunteers work in pairs in classrooms as their little pupils sit on the rug in their designated colored squares, with anxious eyes waiting to see what their visitors have to say.

Students instantly raise their hands to answer questions, with responses such as “I brush my teeth 100 times a day,” bringing a laugh to volunteers faces as they continue to teach them how imperative it is to brush their teeth and visit their dentist to get rid of the “sugar bugs.” These little toddlers also teach volunteers of their own knowledge of what crowns are for and that their older sibling has braces to straighten teeth. How much children know now about dentistry is appalling, but the limitations in access to care continue to be an issue that needs to be addressed.

Dental Health Fairs are the second step in the ladder to Venice Clinic. These are site visits where the dental care is brought to a neighborhood elementary school, and addresses the issue of lack of transportation. Portable dental equipment is set up to replicate a clinic, and treatment such as oral screenings, preventive dental sealants, topical fluoride and fluoride varnish are rendered at no cost to the family. Each health fair brings through approximately 100 children, many who are referred to our Venice Clinic for comprehensive care.

Venice Clinic is a location where dental students have an opportunity to reach out to underprivileged children who otherwise would not receive dental care. Directors put a tremendous amount of effort organizing these clinics, pre-clinical work including dental supply purchase, recruitment of dental assistants and pediatric dental residents, and patient appointment booking and confirmation. Treatments range from simple cleanings and fillings to stainless steel crowns and pulp therapy, all provided at a parent-friendly price of $15 per visit on Saturday mornings. Each clinic treats an average of 16 patients, with an average of 25 volunteers waking up shortly after sunrise to drive to the heart of Venice to provide much needed care. Whether a rookie or a seasoned veteran, volunteers work up a storm to provide care to Los Angeles’ little citizens.

In a school where students work vigorously to complete their graduation requirements and research is held at high esteem, the Saturday Children’s Venice Clinic is a way for students to stay grounded and provides an opportunity for them to reach out to underserved communities. In addition to providing much needed care, organization directors also wish to build their dental volunteers into well-rounded professionals who can empathize with their young patients and continue to serve the underprivileged throughout their lifetime. UCLA dental students have helped approximately 5000 children in Los Angeles through school visits, health fairs and the Saturday Children’s Venice Clinic, surpassing last year’s record of 3,000 students. UCLA School of Dentistry continues to work its way towards bridging the gap in access to care, and hopes that one day every child’s needs are met by leaders willing to open their hearts to those in their community.

Student Spotlight: People Helping People

 
Volunteering in the Health and Nutrition class seemed like the right thing to do for Paula Miller. She showed her classmates how to live better, healthier lives. The class project of nutrition and exercise was a success – she was 20 pounds lighter. Paula, a life-long valley resident, worked in cancer management in a hospital and saw the devastation that illness brings. She also noticed it when both of her parents developed heart disease.

Miller gladly volunteered for the American Cancer Society. She implemented Generation Fit, a series of programs for students designed to help generate an interest in making a lifestyle change. She implemented the program in 18 different facilities, and students that participated in Generation Fit responded positively when they saw that they got results from the program.

Graduating Cum Laude in Health Education at the university, Paula realized she had more to contribute in the field of health education. She returned to the university to pursue the public health degree. Developing a research project to study exercise behavior of university students was a challenge. She developed a 38 question student survey, and administered the survey to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the different schools within the university. In the campus study, 974 respondents participated. The average age of the students was 26, and the project included all ethnic groups. A conceptual framework for the research included the independent variables of gender, ethnicity, age, and marital status as they relate to the dependent variables of self-esteem and exercise behavior of the university students. The comprehensive report provided support for the implementation of physical activity programs at the university. The college student respondents displayed a high rate of decline in regular physical activity. The plan: “People Helping People” could promote exercise throughout the campus. This plan allows students to begin a program of fitness, develop a fitness routine with other students, and log their progress. While strategic marketing plans could attract students to fitness centers, students at the university have many opportunities to help each other.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Health Education Department offered Miller a volunteer internship. Miller says it was more valuable to her because she had the opportunity to see the positive aspects of education. She has developed grant opportunities for schools to implement fitness for kids, as promoting a lifestyle change for students is in the public’s interest.

While there are many programs available for health and wellness, people often need to have assistance getting started. It has been rewarding to help people learn to help themselves. The health educator can develop programs in health and wellness, as well as evaluate the results. Together, students can provide opportunities to increase their participation of physical activities in an effort to become more physically fit. A dream will come true for Paula, as an honor student, when she will be graduates with a Master of Public Health Degree in Health Education.

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