Ohio State University College of Medicine student and Schweitzer Fellow for Life Sabrina Smith partnered with the Central Ohio Diabetes Association to bring evidence-based messaging around health and nutrition to children struggling with obesity. The 5-2-1-0 Healthy Kids Countdown helps kids remember four simple rules for health: eat five servings of fruits or vegetables per day, limit screen time to less than two hours a day, get one hour of exercise a day, and drink no sugar-sweetened beverages. Smith also created a student group at OSU College of Medicine to work with her on her weekly classes with children and train them to keep the program going.
Q: Why did you decide to develop your particular project?
A: When I saw the Schweitzer Fellowship application, I knew right away that it was exactly the type of project I’d been looking for in medical school. I immediately began working on an idea for my application. I decided to work with the Central Ohio Diabetes Association (CODA), an organization I had some experience volunteering with already, and I knew when I saw the 5-2-1-0 initiative that I had the perfect opportunity to incorporate this fabulous organization into a project designed for kids. Through CODA, I was able to locate a community with a need for health education and begin constructing healthy living lessons around diabetes prevention and the 5-2-1-0 initiative.
Q: What do you hope will be the lasting impact of your project on the community it serves?
A: My method of creating a sustainable project was to draw volunteers from the Ohio State community to participate in the weekly healthy living lessons we offered kids at the Cap City Kids after-school programs. I created a student organization at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and enlisted the help of several student volunteers to make each week a success. Creating a student organization based around my project allowed for an easy means of sustainability—in preparation for my clinical years, I appointed new officers to take over the lessons and to work with the same student population next year. I was pleased by the enthusiasm of the new group leaders, as not only will they allow the themes of healthy living to be sustained at the Cap City Kids programs and allow the Central Ohio Diabetes Association to maintain a line of communication with the project, but it will offer the participants of the programs continuity of the mentorship that has been built over the past year.
Q: What do you think is the most pressing health-related issue of our time, and how do you think it should be addressed?
A: I think the most pressing health related issue of our time is clearly equal distribution of care amongst our entire population. Asking how to address it is somewhat of a loaded question—clearly there is no easy answer. As a student in the medical profession, I can see all too clearly the financial difficulties of universal health care, and the practical boulders that must be overcome to achieve it. However, I think that we are making strides as a community to focus on using our individual abilities to work toward offering free health care to the best of our abilities in clinics across the country as our nation works at a higher level to pursue the options that will make healthcare more widely available to all demographics.
Q: What was the most surprising element of your experience as a Schweitzer Fellow?
A: I think the most surprising element of the Schweitzer Fellowship experience was how much support was available from all fronts throughout the year. I knew that working out a project while being a full time medical student would be challenging—and it was—but it was made so much easier by the time and support of the Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellowship board members, students and staff at Ohio State, and staff at the sites where I worked.
Q: What does being a Schweitzer Fellow for Life mean to you?
A: Being a Fellow for Life is such an incredible honor, and I’m so excited to begin this next leg of my journey in the Schweitzer Fellowship. I have met so many like-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds that have come together as members of the Schweitzer family this year, and I am looking forward to continuing to meet the people that will be a part of my personal and professional life in the years to come. I think that being a part of a network like the Fellows for Life means that I will always have a community of other professionals in the health fields that share a passion for service and for addressing disparities in healthcare, and that support will be invaluable as we move forward with our careers.
Click here to learn more about the Columbus-Athens Fellows Program and our work to develop leaders, create change, and improve health in vulnerable communities. We are supported entirely by charitable donations and grants.