February 26, 2019

Wayne State University Community Health Pipeline Career Development Experience mentors youth to become champions for health in Detroit neighborhoods

The Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact (CHCI) concluded its Career Development Experience programming focused on food systems and health equity with an event Feb. 22, 2019. The event showcased the work of 33 Detroit high school students who spent the previous week working in the community to identify and propose interventions to address a food-related health issue. Wayne State University community health faculty, staff and students guided the five high school teams, who pitched their interventions to a panel of Detroit food system experts on Friday.

Student presentations kicked off the day, with students describing a health issue in Brightmoor, Midtown, Eastern Market, Islandview and southwest Detroit, then pitching their ideas for addressing this issue. Judges included Eman Altairi, executive director of the HUDA Clinic; Clara Gamalski, program manager for the Campus Kitchen at University of Detroit Mercy; Nicole Hellar, food access coordinator for the Eastern Market Corporation; Alex Hill, food access, chronic disease and injury prevention manager for the Detroit Health Department; and Alicia Jackson, manager for the community diabetes programs at Beaumont Health. Student presentations were followed by a keynote address by Wayne State University community health student Dellashon Di Cresce on the importance of participating in college readiness and career exploration for students interested in attending post-secondary institutions. Cass Tech students Henry Jones-Smith, Sumaiya Mohib, Elizabeth Okunawo and Kajah Smith, along with Cheyanne Robinson from Denby and Makela Asabigi from Renaissance placed first in the competition on Friday for their intervention addressing lack of access to healthy food in the Islandview area, where they proposed starting a farmers market selling produce grown on the vacant lots in the area. The second place team included Kenneth Jenkins from Eastpointe High School, Dana King, Fatima Ortega, and Sarna Sutradhar from Cass Tech, Adam Mayberry from Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Jalayla Malloy from Oak Park, and Jessica Vargas from Western International High School. The second place team focused on implementing a community garden in Southwest Detroit to increase access to healthy foods. Both first and second place team members earned a small monetary award.

“I joined this program to broaden my horizons,” said participant Caullin Gaskins, a junior at Denby High School. “I am learning so much about the field of community health, and it is fun to meet new people in this organization.”

Wayne State University student mentors also found the program to be both rewarding and relevant. “I was so impressed by the knowledge of the students around social issues,” said Hadis Dastgerdizad. “They are really engaged in their project and have taken it so seriously. I appreciate this program because it can shift their mind to see what will better fit them for future career goals. This practical project helped them engage with a practical aspect of the field.”

Throughout the weeklong program, participants learned about the field of community health and gained insight on tools such as windshield surveys, needs assessments, theoretical frameworks for creating interventions, and budgets. Youth also spent time thinking about their future by creating career maps, touring campus, learning personal budgeting, writing a résumé and talking to WSU student mentors. Participants were able to give back to the community by creating “blessing bags” with the Detroit Feedback Loop, a Wayne State student organization.

Now finishing its second year of programming, the Community Health Pipeline is developed and directed by Noel Kulik, Ph.D., CHES, an assistant professor in WSU’s College of Education and a research fellow in the CHCI. “We listened to youth, parents and local agencies over the past two years and have continuously improved our program to ensure that it is engaging, relevant and useful to youth as they learn about community health, college readiness and how organizations in their neighborhood help to improve the health of residents,” she said.

The Community Health Pipeline works to educate, encourage and empower youth to be agents of change in the areas of food systems, health equity and food access. The five-pillar program seeks to formalize relationships among organizations in Detroit, leverage ongoing and existing resources in the city, train youth leaders to address community health problems, support youth in post-secondary opportunities, and address the lack of diversity in the community health field. The program is funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

For more information about the Community Health Pipeline, contact Stephanie Osborn, project manager, at 313-577-0390 or CHP@wayne.edu, or visit coe.wayne.edu/centerforhealthandcommunityimpact/community-health-career-pipeline.php.

About the Center for Health and Community Impact

The mission of the Center for Health and Community Impact is to improve community health and vitality through leadership and advancement of research, programs and policies for healthy living. The center works with community partners to develop and lead culturally relevant, evidence-based and sustainable programs that transform the healthy living opportunities for families, neighborhoods and organizations to promote a holistic approach to health and social equity across the lifespan. Through its efforts, educators, clinicians, practitioners, evaluators, researchers and community leaders at Wayne State University advance health and social equity at local, regional and national levels. The center’s programs have directly impacted more than 150,000 youth and families and 500 educators and health practitioners across 350 community organizations. For more information, visit coe.wayne.edu/centerforhealthandcommunityimpact.

About the College of Education

For more than a century, the Wayne State University College of Education has prepared effective urban educators who are reflective, innovative and committed to diversity. Its Teacher Education Division boasts one of the most comprehensive, well-established programs in the country, and all four academic divisions offer a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in nearly 30 program areas, including learning design and technology, leadership and policy, kinesiology, sport administration, education evaluation and research, health education and educational psychology, and counseling. To learn more, visit coe.wayne.edu.   

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 27,000 students. For more information, visit wayne.edu

About the Michigan Health Endowment Fund

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of health care, with a special focus on children and seniors. More information about the Michigan Health Endowment Fund can be found at mhealthfund.com.

About the Michigan Fitness Foundation

The Michigan Fitness Foundation strives to cultivate a culture of health to transform the status quo and improve the health of all Michiganders. Its mission is to inspire active lifestyles and healthy food choices in the places we live, work and play. The Michigan Fitness Foundation focuses on increasing access to healthy food and low-cost physical activity opportunities, expanding nutrition and physical education, and shaping places to make the healthy choice the easy choice.


Stephanie Osborn
Phone: 313-577-0390
Email: chp@wayne.edu

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