Their eyes were glued to the screen as Craig Goodmurphy, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Anatomy, positioned the ultrasound wand over the volunteer’s kidneys.
“Do you guys want to see where pee comes from?” Dr. Goodmurphy (pictured above) asked the small group of day-campers. “Yeah!” they cheered.
“See, it looks like a thunderstorm,” he said. “Can you believe we’re watching this on a screen? That’s what your body is doing, too.”
The children were among the 182 elementary-, middle- and high-school students from throughout Hampton Roads who took part in the second annual S.T.E.A.M.M. day camps at EVMS, held July 24 and 26. The camps are a collaboration between the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health at EVMS and From One Hand to Another, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia Beach.
FOHTA was established in 2008 by national recording artist and producer Pharrell Williams, who grew up in the region and whose mother, Carolyn Williams, EdD, helps lead the organization. By focusing on S.T.E.A.M.M. summer camps, FOHTA works to expand educational opportunities that empower participants and inspire curiosity through fun, project-based learning.
More than 50 EVMS faculty members, residents and students volunteered to conduct the six hands-on camp sessions. Every 20 minutes, five groups of campers rotated through Ultrasound and Anatomy, Broken Bones, The Buzz on Scuzz, Stop the Bleed, Surgical Assisting and Healthcare Simulation.
“It’s important to bring these kids to campus so they know what’s possible,” Dr. Goodmurphy says. “At this age they have a growth mindset, and they’re able to imagine what their future might be like.”
Frank Lattanzio, PhD, Professor of Physiological Sciences, didn’t hesitate to volunteer. “It’s fun to have kids here who are interested in learning,” he says. “And even if they don’t end up going into a health profession, we’re creating educated consumers, and that’s always helpful.”
FOHTA Program Manager Stephanie Walters explains that for campers who have an interest in the medical field, “This is a great way for them to get a first-time, hands-on experience. Other kids might not know what they want to do yet, but they come here and walk away with, ‘Wow, I think I want to do this.’”
Ensuring that the day-campers feel comfortable at EVMS is also important, says Anastassia Reznik, MD Class of 2020, who volunteered for the Stop the Bleed session. “It’s events like this where we get to make a real impact on our community,” Ms. Reznik says. “This is extremely valuable and reminds us why we’re here.”
EVMS volunteers included eight faculty, staff and students from the Master of Public Health program. They conducted The Buzz on Scuzz session.
“The motivation for us was to be engaged with the students at a young age and to give them a taste of what public health is,” says Brian Martin, PhD, MBA, Professor in the School of Health Professions, MPH Program Director and Assistant Dean for Admissions and Enrollment. “I know they learned things that they’ll share with their families, and that’s just a great feeling.”
Building the EVMS pipeline is a priority for Thomas Kimble, MD, Associate Dean of Admissions and Enrollment and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “High school is almost too late,” Dr. Kimble says. “The optimum time is elementary and middle school. We have so much talent right here in Hampton Roads that we need to tap into.”
Giving back is another reason Dr. Kimble took time out of his hectic schedule to give the closing remarks to the campers.
“This is our community,” he says. “We want to nourish these kids, show them the opportunities they have and give them some advice as they progress through elementary and middle school. I had mentors who exposed me to S.T.E.A.M.M. activities at their age. That’s why I recognize the importance of this because that’s where my interest was initiated.”
Dr. Kimble’s message is an example of what FOHTA’s Dr. Carolyn Williams hopes will result from the EVMS day camps. “All of these volunteers,” she says, “they certainly send a message to the kids.” It’s a message, Dr. Williams believes, that will inspire the campers later in life to pay it forward by mentoring or providing opportunities for someone else.
As for the partnership between FOHTA and EVMS, she says, “I feel like we are just beginning.”