Collaborative Efforts Teaches Students About Tuberculosis
For students at San Diego High School, a campaign to educate their peers about tuberculosis became a powerful lesson in advocacy and empowerment.
“The work that we’re doing here is amazing,” said Adja, a senior at the school who said she wants to become a nurse midwife and work to be a voice for Black women in health care. “It was very empowering.”
The project was part of a collaboration between the San Diego County Office of Education’s (SDCOE) Work-Based Learning team and the county Health and Human Services Agency Public Health Services Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health Branch.
San Diego High School is piloting the eight-week service-learning project. Additional schools are expected to participate next year, focusing on high-risk tuberculosis areas.
Each week, a representative from the Public Health Services Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health Branch visits the classroom to give a presentation about tuberculosis. Students then conduct surveys in their community and design a strategy to help prevent the spread of the infection. The project culminates with a presentation to a panel of professional.
“This helps them learn how to give back to their community,” said Sonia Lira, a member of the SDCOE Work-Based Learning team who helped coordinate the project.
At San Diego High School, 36 students participated. Some of their ideas included a social media campaign and celebrity endorsement.
Tamia, one of those students, said she expects the advocacy and public speaking skills she learned through the project will serve her well in the future because she’s planning to become a criminal justice attorney.
“It was a lot of fun, and it was a new experience that I probably couldn’t get anywhere else,” she said. “It was inspiring.”
Tamia said her biggest takeaway from the project is that tuberculosis is much more common and closer to home than she thought.
“When we did the presentation about tuberculosis rates in different ZIP codes, that was big,” she added.
Isaiah, another student who participated, said that teaching others about tuberculosis was “empowering.” He wants to use the skills he learned in the future as an advocate for animals.
“We created our own ad and presented it to the panel,” he said. “I felt confident because we had information from experts. It was nice to have such a big responsibility.”
The students participating at San Diego High School are part of the campus’s MedTech Academy, a four-year program that focuses on medical professions. The experience has helped the students develop important skills related to community awareness and leadership, said Skye Cooke Pinon, who teaches the class participating at San Diego High School.
“It’s important to empower them to develop those skills and share them with each other in a way that benefits the community,” Cooke Pinon said.
The project is an opportunity for larger numbers of students to learn important work-readiness skills and learn about an industry sector without having to commit to a full internship, said Alex Becker, another member of SDCOE’s work-based learning team.
“With these projects, they’re getting something that’s designed by people in the industry and are dealing with real-world situations,” Becker explained. “They get a flavor for the job, but they’re also contributing to the solution.”
For the Health and Human Services Agency, the project is an opportunity to get the word out to youth, who could be at high risk of tuberculosis infection, in an authentic way from their peers, said Marti Brentnall, tuberculosis outreach and education coordinator at the Public Health Services Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health Branch.
“We really appreciate that we can go out into the high schools and do peer-to-peer education,” she explained. “It’s a plus for us at the county, because can promote public health and encourage our next generation of public health educators and clinicians.”
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