Global Health debuts program of courses for high schoolers
High school students Grace Jennings and Jackson Gode would love to see the stigma of sickness change around the world. The two 17-year-olds traveled to Zambia with an intramural club at Seattle Academy, and witnessed isolation and discrimination against people who are deaf, HIV-positive, or simply have hypopigmented skin.
“In order for a pathway from sick to healthy to exist for all inhabitants of the globe, this stigma needs to be changed,” Gode said at a symposium in November at the University of Washington.
Progressive high schools have become a launching pad for students interested in global health. Soon those students will be able to study the burgeoning field for college credit through an affiliation with the Department of Global Health, which sponsored the symposium, and the “UW in the High School” program (UWHS).
Redmond High School students will be able to take “GH101, Introduction to Global Health: Disparities, Determinants, Policies & Outcomes” in the 2014-2015 school year, said Julie Beschta, who manages the UW department’s academic programs.
Global health will be one of the first departments in UW’s health sciences schools to offer a course to high school students under this program, she said. UWHS courses are taught by high school teachers; students’ credit hours earned at UW will be recognized by most public institutions and many private ones.
“This is a great opportunity for high school students to learn current issues in global health in their own classrooms for UW credit, said professor Stephen Gloyd, associate chair for education and curriculum for global health and one of the GH101 instructors. “This should not only engage the students, but help make them informed global citizens.
Jennings and Gode both said their Zambia Club experience gave them new perspective on global health inequities.
Seattle Academy has sent a group of students to the nation every year since 2001, when a local family with business and family ties to southern Africa proposed a trial program to take donated laptops to start a computer lab in a high school. Students and teachers soon realized that success in education also depends on the health of the child and family, on clothing, shelter and school supplies. An active fundraising campaign began.
Jennings, now a member of Seattle Academy’s new Global Health Club, said she would pursue environmental science and global studies in college.
“We are untrained in the medical profession, and while we provide cement floors, sunscreen and access to health, we find ourselves trying to provide a healthy environment that has little to do with the physical condition, but more about the mental capacity we all are capable of,” she said at her symposium presentation.