MLK Semester of Service Student Awards support local health projects
Students from all three UMass Worcester schools will partner with Worcester community organizations to promote health awareness and leadership in local refugee populations, advocate for elimination of trans fats in area restaurants and create a book group for high school students preparing for college, thanks to funding from the 2011 Martin Luther King Semester of Service Student Awards. The Building on the Promise: Learn and Serve UMass program at UMMS has chosen four recipients of the MLK Semester of Service Student Awards, a new community service initiative designed to support student-driven community-responsive service and service-learning projects in the communities that surround the Worcester campus. Each of the four project teams funded will receive $500 to support implementation of their proposals, which require the students to partner with existing community organizations. The recipients will be recognized at the UMMS MLK Day celebration on Monday, Jan. 24, at 12:30 p.m. in the Faculty Conference Room. GSN student Toy Lim will work with the African Community Education organization on a culturally and age-appropriate nutrition and obesity prevention education program for local African refugee children; medical student Sarah Tracy and GSBS student Nang Maung plan to help teens and young adults from Burma become community leaders as they learn about health care while running an educational health night for the local Burmese refugee population; SOM students Micaela Bayard and Matthew Zanghi will partner with Worcester’s North High School to offer a book group for their GEAR UP college awareness and readiness program; and SOM students Mitchell Li, Matthew DeWolf and Adam Chin will team up with the Worcester Department of Public Health and the Hunger Free and Healthy Coalition to help local restaurants learn how they can voluntarily eliminate trans fats from their menus. The projects are designed to strengthen existing relationships with the community; address community needs and student learning objectives; and provide opportunities for members of the UMMS community to work together and engage with the larger community. An important component of each project is the opportunity for the students to analyze and reflect on their work. In addition, they will prepare a brief final report that documents how the funds were used and highlights the project outcomes and the lessons learned. Finally, these students must obtain systematic feedback from fellow volunteers and those they served. “The award selection committee was impressed with the high quality of all proposals received,” said Heather-Lyn Haley, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health, who is the Learn and Serve UMass Worcester coordinator. “In fact, these four winning proposals were so strong that we went back and found more funding, so we could expand the winner’s circle from three to four proposals—and we’re thrilled to be able to support such great student ideas for improving the health of the Worcester community.” Building on the Promise: Learn and Serve UMass is a five-campus initiative supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Toy Lim, GSN GEP ’12, Community Organization: African Community Education (ACE) Project: to develop and teach a culturally and age-appropriate nutrition/obesity prevention curriculum for African refugee children ages 11 to 18 Sarah Tracy SOM ’14 Nang Maung, GSBS ’12 Community Organization: Worcester Refugee Assistance Program (WRAP) Project: to help teens and young adults from Burma become community leaders as they learn about health care, and work with medical students to run an educational health night for Burmese refugees Micaela Bayard, SOM ’12 Matthew Zanghi, SOM ’13 Community Organization: Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP), North High School Project: Reading Forward will use literature discussion as a forum for self-development and build innovative and interesting dialogue around a book discussion led by UMMS medical students, residents and faculty Mitchell Li, SOM ’13 Matthew DeWolf, SOM ’14 Adam Chin, SOM ’14 Community Organization: Worcester Department of Public Health and the Hunger Free and Healthy Coalition Project: to partner with Worcester-area restaurants to encourage the elimination of trans fats from menus through creation of multilingual outreach materials and public education about the health implications.