The following are just examples of the many community outreach projects that Urban Service Track leads throughout the year. Other outreach projects are available, and more are added to the running list each year. (The asterisks denote community outreach projects that occur multiple times throughout the year.)
*Affording Medications: Helping patients with strategies to afford medications.
*Asthma Camp: A camp for children ages 6-12 years living with this chronic disease. Urban Health Scholars help elementary school students explore and learn about asthma in a fun and exciting way. The children learn about asthma triggers, medication education and coping skills. Parents/guardians attend a Q & A led by a healthcare professional about the treatment of asthma.
*Biomedical Engineering Discovery Program: A Saturday immersion program for high school students about the biomedical engineering field as it applies to healthcare. Urban Health Scholars work directly with students to accomplish their hands-on activity, which may involve building a hydraulic arm or designing and building a prosthetic leg.
*Brushing Bunnies: Teaches children about the importance of oral hygiene through story-telling and sharing information about what to expect when seeing a dental provider. Brushing Bunnies is offered to childcare centers/programs and elementary schools enrolling underserved children.
CT Mission of Mercy: Sponsored by the CT Dental Association, Urban Health Scholars and faculty support the pharmacy and medical triage areas, serve as medical interpreters, patient escorts, and patient educators, and have the opportunity to observe in the dental clinic. Over 2,000 patients and nearly a million dollars’ worth of free dental care are provided over the course of one weekend.
CCMC/UCHC HIV Peds/Family Holiday Social: Join children and families living with HIV/AIDS for the annual holiday social by coordinating arts and crafts activities.
*Community Garden Initiative: Promoting community gardening, better nutrition, and health promotion activities for Hartford’s residents, UST Scholars work with community agencies and the public to plant, maintain and nurture multiple community gardening beds. Activities begin in the spring and culminate early fall.
“Since UST allows me to actually see how people are struggling and what they are looking for from a heathcare system, my passion to learn and become knowledgeable about healthcare has greatly increased.”
- Neighbor Housing Services of New Britain Health Fair (mid/late June)
- Greater Hartford NAACP Family Day (mid/late August)
- Simpson Waverly Health Fair (mid/late September-early October)
- Bloomfield-West Hartford Health Department Initiative (throughout the year)
- Go Red Women’s Heart Health – collaborating with the American Heart Association, this event is typically held in March. Urban Health Scholars provide pre-luncheon wellness screenings and education.
- Sickle Cell Walk-a-thon and Health Expo – (early/mid October)
*From Wheeze to Breeze: Community education around understanding asthma and COPD self-management including triggers and medications.
*Going Beyond Initiative: Reaching out to populations not typically seen at other UST outreach events to provide health education and screenings on a wide variety of topics.
*Health Careers Awareness: UST Scholars work with students K-16 through a variety of programs to expose disadvantaged children and teens to opportunities in health careers. Programs include Middle School & High School Clinical Skills, Take Your Child to Work Day, College Health Service Corps Symposium, Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Participation, Rowes Scholars, UConn Public Health and Service Living/Learning Community, etc.
*Healthy Hartford Campaign: Health promotion activities provided to residents of the greater Hartford area. Activities include basic screenings and risk assessments as well as health education and health promotion. HHC patient focus: families, men, women, the elderly and City of Hartford employees.
*Hispanic Senior Center: Utilizing Spanish language skills, UST Scholars provide special health promotion and fun activities with older adults at the Hispanic Senior Center of Hartford. Activities run the gamut from holiday treats for those with diabetes, to oral health and medication education, to bingo!
*Husky Sports: Working directly Hartford elementary school students participating in UConn’s Husky Sport Program, Scholars bring health careers and science alive by providing after-school enrichment programming. This unique program supports an evening health promotion education program for parents/guardians.
*Immunization Education: Promoting awareness of the importance of vaccination in adults as well as dispelling misconceptions of various vaccines.
*Migrant Farm Worker Clinic: Making healthcare accessible to the 17,000 to 20,000 migratory workers residing in Connecticut by establishing mobile clinics at their worksites (farms). The MFW Clinic operates from late June through late September.
National Primary Care Week: UST has 8 community sites each year. Community screenings encompassing hypertension, diabetes, nutrition, smoking cessation, and other health promotion education, oral health awareness education, and an Ask the Pharmacist opportunity.
*No Ifs, Ands, or Butts: Focuses on smoking cessation education to adults at community health events and smoking prevention education to children and teens.
“UST offers students the opportunity to effect meaningful change through leadership, creativity, and innovation. It has been a rewarding experience to implement a Smoking Cessation Program and to lead interprofessional students. I have thoroughly enjoyed empowering them to raise awareness on pharmacological interventions, behavioral change, and motivational counseling to ultimately show patients that it is never too late to quit smoking.”
*Nutrition Detectives: Urban Health Scholars teach 2nd and 3rd graders about making better food choices in a fun and engaging way at elementary schools enrolling urban children. Utilizing “detective” hats, sunglasses and magnifying glasses, children “investigate” the nutrition contents of various foods.
*Pathways/Senderos Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program: Working with the Greater New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention Center (motto: Diplomas Before Diapers) staff to deliver after school programming for 6th-12th graders. Topic include: nutrition for healthy teens, oral health tips, health careers awareness, poison control/awareness for babysitters, smoking prevention, etc. There is also a similar program for the city of Waterbury.
*Smiling Seniors: Oral health education provided to older adults that is fun and engaging. Utilizing interprofessional teams of UST Scholars, the Smiling Seniors program teaches participants proper hygiene techniques as well as the role played by medications, nutrition, adaptive appliances, and chronic diseases in oral healthcare.
*Spring Forward – Don’t Fall Back: Engaging older adults in fall prevention educational activities that are fun and relevant for seniors.
*Tar Wars: Focuses on tobacco-free education and messaging for elementary school children. Tar Wars is a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This is a “plug-in” program facilitated in the classroom by Urban Health Scholars.
*Tick-Borne Illness Prevention – Aware and Prepared: Focuses on raising awareness about tick borne infections and providing education on steps that can be taken to prevent exposure.
I’ve always been passionate about universal heath care and helping those in need, but was never able to act upon this. It wasn’t until I was able to learn about the different vulnerable populations and actually provide them with health care and education that I learned what it means to care for the underserved and why it’s so important.