The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) announced the selection of its third cohort of Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows. Twelve graduate and medical students from Southern Methodist University; Texas Christian University; Texas Woman’s University; the University of Dallas; the University of Texas at Arlington; the University of Texas at Dallas; and UT Southwestern Medical Center will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.
“This is a talented and hard-working group of students who are passionate about access to healthcare, literacy, and meeting basic hygiene needs,” said Courtney Roy, Program Director of the Dallas-Fort Worth Schweitzer Fellowship. “They’ve partnered with an impressive range of community-based groups that are working to help vulnerable people live healthier lives, and it will be very exciting to see how their projects progress over the next year.”
Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. This year’s Fellows will address an array of health and wellbeing issues affecting a range of populations, including programs to address lack of adequate access to diapers and feminine hygiene products, management of congestive heart failure, and below-grade reading skills among middle school students.
“Many of our Fellows go on to build impressive professional careers. The process of moving their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to completion teaches them valuable skills in working with others in allied fields,” said Bruce Auerbach, MD, chairman of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “As Schweitzer Fellows develop professionally, this skill is critical to their ability to effect larger-scale change among vulnerable populations.”
The 12 Dallas-Fort Worth Fellows will join approximately 240 other 2017-18 Schweitzer Fellows working at 14 program sites around the United States, as well as one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2017-18 Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,400 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program marks a unique collaboration between eight Dallas-Fort Worth universities. Housed at Southern Methodist University, supporting universities include the Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing, Texas Christian University, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Dallas, University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Other US-based ASF programs are located in Alabama; Boston; Chicago; Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New Hampshire/Vermont; North Carolina; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Tulsa.
2017-2018 Dallas-Fort Worth Albert Schweitzer Fellows
Umaru Barrie, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Barrie is addressing chronic health risk factors facing homeless populations through a stress reduction program. In addition to working with male homeless population at a shelter in Dallas to bring awareness to stress as an important risk factor for chronic illnesses, the program will incorporate health sessions and stress relaxation activities geared towards engaging the participants to reduce such stress. One major conclusion that can be stated from this project is that combating stress may be the most important tool to eradicating health risk factors and chronic illnesses seen in the homeless population.
Community Site: Union Gospel Mission Calvert Place Men’s Shelter
Justin Barringer, Dedman College, Southern Methodist University
Barringer is addressing the lack of accessible diapers and feminine hygiene products among low-income families and women in Dallas. The project would entail the collection, storage, and distribution of diapers (along with wipes and rash creams) and feminine hygiene products. Currently government programs do not provide financial assistance for these necessary items and thus many poor women and families go without them or sacrifice other goods in order to afford them. Likewise, very few organizations have a regular supply of diapers or feminine hygiene products available to low-income people.
Community Site: White Rock United Methodist Church
Roselyn Cedeno Davila, Texas Woman’s University
Cedeno Davila is reaching out to the community addressing women’s health in East Dallas, Texas by creating Speak Health!, a program for women all of ages. Besides providing health education on issues affecting women, the program will bring them together in a space where they will have access to interactive information, share experiences and ideas, as well as learn actively. The program’s objective is to empower women of all generations inspiring them to be in control of their bodies and minds by living a healthy life and not hesitating to speak about health. Community Site: CitySquare
Chloe Griffen, Dedman College, Southern Methodist University
Griffen is addressing menstrual management and weak patient-primary care provider relationships in South Dallas by partnering with a high school and medical professionals to provide gender-specific health guidance and demonstrate how relationships with primary-care physicians can foster better overall healthcare habits. In the Menstrual Empowerment (ME) Program teens will participate in a 3-month project tracking their cycles—learning how the onset, regularity/irregularity, symptoms before, during and after can provide valuable clues about health and the interactions of body systems. This program breaks the silence around menstruation, which empowers young women, reduces stigma, and helps equalize the gender playing field.
Community Site: Justin F. Kimball High School
Janice Jiang, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Jiang is addressing mental health and smoking cessation in homeless men by implementing a weekly mindfulness-based stress reduction class at Calvert Place men’s homeless shelter. Goals for this project include increased use of mindfulness techniques and reduced cigarette usage in participants, creation of an adapted mindfulness curriculum, and training new volunteers to continue the project following the fellowship. The project will ultimately encourage participants to take a more active role in maintaining their own physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Community Site: Union Gospel Mission Calvert Place
Leslie Johnson, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Johnson is addressing prenatal health in Dallas by implementing a prenatal health curriculum for women recovering from substance use disorder. The program will focus on restoring dignity to these women and decreasing stigma associated with substance use while empowering participants to take control of their health and the health of their future children. The curriculum will be designed to be participatory and reactive to incorporate the women’s learning needs and interests.
Community Site: Nexus Recovery Center
Sean Mixon, University of Dallas
Mixon is addressing educational differences in Lancaster, TX during the summer by establishing a summer writing program for middle school students. In addition to providing on-going education for students, the program will incorporate writing and technology, and will provide students with publishable artifacts. Also, the program will address hunger in low economic areas by offering the kids a healthy snack after each meeting. Ultimately, the program will aim to reinforce skills acquired during the school year, eliminating conceptual and procedural weaknesses, and preparing the student for the next school year.
Community Site: Lancaster Middle School
Prachi Patel, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Patel is addressing the effects of abuse and trauma in children in Dallas by creating a stress management program for girls who have faced child abuse. The program will include discussions on stress awareness and introduce a variety of stress coping mechanisms. Ultimately, the program aims for each girl to create a personalized “toolbox” of the strategies and activities that she believes are most effective.
Community Site: Jonathan’s Place
Senani Perera, Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Texas Christian University
Perera is addressing school readiness and hearing health in the local communities of Fort Worth, Texas by offering free parent trainings and hearing screenings on Saturdays. In addition to helping parents to better communicate with their children while fostering early literacy skills, it will incorporate lessons geared towards the older school-age population as well including hearing preservation and reading and spelling strategies. Furthermore, in hoping to provide a holistically healthy experience, free exercise classes will be offered to the participating families during the parent training sessions.
Community Site: Morningside Children’s Partnership and TCU Miller Speech and Hearing Clinic
Rachel Reitan, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, University of Texas at Arlington
Reitan is addressing the knowledge gap of lower extremity health in diabetic and pre-diabetic persons in the local community. The program aims to educate this patient population on the physiological effects of diabetes on the lower extremities and how to protect their legs and feet from ulcers, infection, amputation, and other complications. Enabling pre-diabetic and diabetic patients with simple educational tools to increase compliance and knowledge in this area by addressing “what to watch for,” how to inspect the legs and feet, how to prevent foot wounds, and what to do if a wound develops, can help decrease the rate of infection, amputation, hospital admission, and even death.
Community Site: Wichita Falls Family Health Center
Asha Vadlamudi, Naveen Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas
Vadlamudi is addressing chronic disease in North Dallas by implementing a disease management program for adults with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). The program will implement free weekly health fairs at a local clinic, which will provide CHF health screenings and key indicator measurements (such as blood pressure and weight). In addition to the screenings and measurement, the program will educate participants about healthy living habits and medication management, which will help to keep their disease at a manageable level. The participants will also take part in free exercise workshops in which they will be motivated to stay active. Due to the nature of the disease and progressively slow onset, the program is designed to have participants be more proactive in their own healthcare and management of their disease.
Community Site: Wellness Center for Older Adults
Jazzmyn Wilson, Naveen Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas
Wilson is addressing the food desert crisis in South Dallas by connecting the region’s youth to healthy food options through technology and working relationships with local agencies and farmers. By introducing healthier options through field trips to and visits from local markets and non-profit organizations, the program aims to empower South Dallas youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to combat the cycle of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension that permeates the community. Ideally, the program will foster a healthier relationship with food amongst school-age children and garner an investment in the community that will drive personal leadership in their households and city.
Community Site: Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center