Student Perspectives: Noelle R.

My name is Noelle Roddam and I am a senior attending Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California. Last year, during the 2016-2017 school year, I participated in the health advocacy project, directed by the doctors of RUHS Family Medicine Residency and introduced to me through my Health Careers Academy Junior class. For this project the doctors challenged us students to define what advocacy means and to identify different types of heath disparities within our own community. Through out the entirety of this project we worked as a team to identify a community health disparity that felt the most important to us and brain stormed the different ways to solve itand how to help the people affected by it. My team made up of myself, Ricardo Sanchez, Joel Oswari, Trent Sauls, and Alex Peña, decided that we wanted to tackle to problem of marijuana abuse among the student of our high school and teens of the community.  


For the foundations of our projectmy group and I studied the different health affects of marijuana on the developing brainand body and found some very shocking data. We found, through our research, that a very large population of teens around our age has or is experimenting with this popular recreational drug and that the drug itself can act as a gateway to other more lethal and serious narcotics such as heroin, cocaine and addictive prescription drugs that can lead to even further brain damage and death when taken in too large a portion. This hit myself and my group hard because these teens that we were studying were just like us and we had never realized before the effects of this drug that had always been passed off to be something used just for fun and treated in a non-serious matter. After we gathered all of this important information we designed, filmed and edited a video displaying all of it in an innovative and relatable matter that would reach out the teens similar to our age and younger. Our goal was the accurately display all of the possible negative effects associated with marijuana itself so that people could understand why they should avoid it. Our completed video included a list of the effects of marijuana, a plot and characters that mirrored marijuana in everyday life, a description of the controversial Proposition 64 that was being discussed and voted on during the time of the project, and statistics and percentages representing the chances of addiction to other more lethal drugs stemmed from use of marijuana. Designing the video and showing it to my class was by far my favorite part because it showed me that we had the power to spread awareness on this very important subject. This project helped me to gain confidence in my voice as a teen in my community and helped me to gain strength in my in my ability to make change for better community health and happiness. 

Student Perspectives: Chloe

My experience with the Emerging Health Advocates program is one I am never going to forget. Spending my junior year collaborating with Dr. Bajwa, my teammates, and so many other people who dedicate their time to the program helped me grow not only as a student but as a person and future member in the healthcare field. Our advocacy project on nutrition labels and their presence in schools within the district granted my team and me the opportunity to present in front of the Emerging Leaders Council in April and to receive feedback on ways to improve our message as well as rewarding praise on how much we accomplished. The long days researching and rehearsing our project had brought my teammates and I even closer together and taught me the importance of friendship when working towards your goals.

From my participation in the program I learned so many valuable lessons applicable within the class room, such as time management and the benefits of maintaining organization, as well as those useful beyond school. Being supportive of my teammates as we worked so hard on our projects knowing the amazing things we could accomplish was one of the most important things I could have done. A memory of this entire journey I will never forget goes back to the hours right before our presentation in front of the Council when Dr. Bajwa brought us lunch after we agreed to stay in to rehearse some more and add the final touches. It proved to my team and me how amazing Dr. Bajwa truly is and how his support and passion for our project’s mission is to thank for when looking at how far we have come. Working with everyone on this project has been one of the most rewarding things my Health Careers Academy could have ever offered me, and I am truly grateful for the support from friends, family, and of course Dr. Bajwa.

Chloe H.

Be The Change

So remember last month how I told you about our students presenting at the Moreno Valley City Council's Emerging Leaders Council? Well, they did such a great job that they were back at it again; this time, for a quick update on the progress they've made since the last meeting. They only had three minutes to share their updates with the Council, but they did a phenomenal job: they explained their planned changes in curriculum for nutrition labels and food portions in high schools. Furthermore, they announced their selection as Advocacy Ambassadors for the 2017-2018 school year. We are so thrilled to have Chloe and Adriana on board as we take our program to even higher levels! The Council even remarked that this had been their biggest audience ever to attending a meeting :) so it seems as if the word is spreading! 

As an added bonus, one of the Councilmembers approached us about a potential collaboration with the University of California  at Riverside's "Mini Medical School." He mentioned that they were also looking for outreach opportunities in community advocacy, and that our program seemed an ideal fit for them. We can't wait to start  collaborating with their college students to provide even more exposure to health advocacy and family medicine! 


Advocacy in Action! Health Advocacy Day

The students and teachers picked Thursday, March 9th as the date for their "Advocacy in Action" Day -- an opportunity to showcase their work for the entire school and community. I was looking forward to this day for weeks, but the life of a resident physician is not always fun and games: as luck would have it, for this week I was assigned night float duty for the Obstetrics/Gynecology service at the hospital. 

So after a 13-hour shift of delivering babies and ruling out active labor, I had just enough time to swap my scrubs for a shirt & tie before hurrying over to the high schools to start the day's work.

The students at Valley View had completed their campus projects in full and were now looking for ways to expand to the community. Their teacher, Coach Jacobsen, has been our strongest supporter of the advocacy work since Day 1, and his students' work reflects that. They are eager to take their change to the next level!

At Canyon Springs, the students were giddy with nerves and excitement about the Advocacy In Action Day. They were already getting set up when I arrived, and their project displays were just wonderful. We had turn out from community organizations, news media, and school administration. It could not have gone better! My energy level went from sluggish to full-steam-ahead after seeing the students' enthusiasm for their work. It was so worth the long hours to see these young advocates assume their roles as agents of change in their community.

Check out the website for more photos from the day!



Emerging Leaders Council!

What started with a simple idea in an office building in Kansas just realized its purpose at Moreno Valley City Hall. Our students presented their advocacy work in nutrition to the Emerging Leaders Council, and they did an absolutely fantastic job! 

Chloe, Adriana, Kaylee and Alina worked so hard and practiced tirelessly for this opportunity. They received very strong feedbacak from the Councilmembers and staff. There were several community members, teachers, physicians, and family/friends in attendance. What an exciting day for these young advocates! 

Check out the website for more photos!


Pre-Advocacy Huddle

Pre-Advocacy Huddle