Efforts to recruit high school students to volunteer in the health care professions and to develop
an interest in future health care careers have received a big boost from a $1 million federal grant.
The grant is from Learn and Serve America, an arm of the
Corporation for National and Community Service agency.
The Northwestern Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in Middlebury, part of the School of Medicine's Connecticut AHEC Program, has been awarded
funds to develop and maintain high-quality, community-based, service-learning programs.
The three-year grant will provide funding for AHEC's Youth Health Service Corps, established in 2004 to engage students in community service.
"The corps helps meet the
needs of the community, enhances education, and promotes civic participation," says Patricia
Harrity, executive director of the Northwestern Connecticut AHEC in Middlebury, who wrote the grant.
"We are thrilled to receive this highly competitive award. It recognizes our efforts and the importance of the corps' impact within the community."
Corps training is provided to high school students from groups underrepresented in the health professions.
They are then placed in local organizations that serve medically vulnerable populations, says Dr. Bruce Gould, director of the Connecticut AHEC Program at the UConn Health Center.
"The project strives to provide support to strained health agencies by tapping into resources already within the community," he says.
| Patricia Harrity, right, executive director of the Northwestern Connecticut Area Health Education Center in Middlebury, and JoAnn D’Avirro, Youth Health Service Corps director of site development, Northwestern Connecticut AHEC.
|Photo by Frank Barton
The training curriculum involves nine modules on a variety of social and legal topics as they relate to health services. Similar programs are being developed in Rhode Island and Mississippi, and there is a long-term goal to replicate the program nationwide.
The funding award letter states that the overall quality of applications received was outstanding.
The letter also notes that the competition has reached a record high, and funds an all-time low, "So your accomplishment is significant."
Previous awards to the AHEC include the 2006 President's Volunteer Service Award, given to AHEC high school junior volunteer Amargeet Singh, and the 2005 Linkage Award for exemplary community-based collaborations presented by the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice in Washington, D.C.
The Connecticut Youth Health Service Corps includes collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Primary Care Association, and the National Health Services Corps.