Wayne State University Community Health Pipeline program hosts End of Summer Celebration

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The Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact recently hosted an End of Summer Celebration. The event honored 52 Detroit high school students who participated in the Community Health Pipeline — a program that educates, encourages and empowers youth to be agents of change in the areas of food systems, health equity and food access. Festivities included dinner, guest speakers and recognition of funders, partners, participants and youth selected to serve on the Youth Advisory Board. The invitation-only event took place in the Matthaei Physical Education Center on Wayne State’s campus.

“I am very excited about the success the Community Health Pipeline has had in its first few months,” said Nate McCaughtry, Ph.D., director of the center and assistant dean of the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies. “Its innovative programming is integral to other projects being carried out at the center.”

Students were celebrated for completing their summer internships with a variety of organizations focused on food issues, including the Detroit Food Policy Council, the Detroit Health Department, the Detroit Public School Community District’s Office of School Nutrition, Eastern Market and Fair Food Network. Participants completed a variety of tasks, including growing, harvesting and selling local produce; running farm stands throughout Detroit; educating the community about nutrition and food access programs; packing boxes of food for families in need; and gaining a deeper understanding of the connection between the local food system, access and health. During the celebration, students described how their experiences helped them improve their communication and community engagement skills and increase their knowledge of nutrition and nutrition-related programs. Other activities included a slideshow of the students at work, speeches from Cass Tech junior Rakira Urquhart and Patrice Brown from Eastern Market Corporation and the presentation of certificates to participants.

A new initiative developed and directed by Noel Kulik, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sports Studies in the College of Education and research fellow at the center, the Community Health Pipeline seeks to formalize relationships among organizations in Detroit, leverage ongoing and existing resources in the city, train youth leaders to address community health problems using an action framework and participatory approach, support youth in postsecondary opportunities, and address the lack of diversity in the community health profession. The program is funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

“We are incredibly excited to be a partner on the WSU Community Health Pipeline,” said Laurie Solotorow, senior program officer at the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. “We were pleased to witness the impact it has had on the young people who engaged in the program — from education, community outreach and connection to business partner relationships, we are excited about the opportunities the program has created for youth in Detroit. We look forward to the effect it will have on engaging young people in recognizing the importance of food access and food systems as a means to promote community health.”

The Community Health Pipeline includes five pillars that build on each other: education, urban farming, apprenticeships, youth empowerment and career development. The first component focuses on nutrition; the center has collaborated with the Detroit Healthy Youth Initiative and Michigan Harvest of the Month to teach more than 40,000 high school students in seven Detroit schools about making healthy food choices. During the next phase, students learn about urban farming. More than 300 students have applied their knowledge of nutrition by using vouchers to purchase local produce during visits to farms and farmers markets. As part of the third and fourth pillars, the program provides students with paid internships; more than 50 students have gained experience in food production, handling and marketing as well as community engagement, nutrition education and programs supporting food security. The last component emphasizes college and career preparation. Students learn about university resources, explore community health programs and careers, and compete for a college scholarship during a four-day visit to Wayne State’s campus.

At the end of the evening, students were invited to apply for the final pillar. The college and career readiness component will begin in October. Applications are being accepted through September 13.

“We are thrilled with our partnerships and our ability to reach youth in Detroit and engage them in larger conversations and action around food justice and food access,” said Kulik. “Through participation in this hands-on program, youth are examining social and economic factors that affect health outcomes and building a foundation for becoming advocates for and pursuing career opportunities in community health. Most important, they are learning they can have a positive impact on health in their own families, schools and communities — and that is powerful.”

For more information about the Community Health Career Pipeline, contact Stephanie Krajnik, project manager, at 313-577-0390 or CHP@wayne.edu, or visit coe.wayne.edu/centerforhealthandcommunityimpact/community-health-career-pipeline.php.


About the Center for Health and Community Impact
The mission of the Center for Health and Community Impact is to improve community health and vitality through leadership and advancement of research, programs and policies for healthy living. The center works with community partners to develop and lead culturally relevant, evidence-based and sustainable programs that transform the heathy living opportunities for families, neighborhoods and organizations to promote a holistic approach to health and social equity across the lifespan. Through its efforts, educators, clinicians, practitioners, evaluators, researchers and community leaders at Wayne State University advance health and social equity at local, regional and national levels. The center’s programs have directly impacted more than 150,000 youth and families and 500 educators and health practitioners across 350 community organizations. For more information, visit coe.wayne.edu/centerforhealthandcommunityimpact.

About the College of Education
For more than a century, the Wayne State University College of Education has prepared effective urban educators who are reflective, innovative and committed to diversity. Its Teacher Education Division boasts one of the most comprehensive, well-established programs in the country, and all four academic divisions offer a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in nearly 30 program areas, including learning design and technology, leadership and policy, kinesiology, sport administration, education evaluation and research, health education and educational psychology, and counseling. To learn more, visit coe.wayne.edu.   

About Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 27,000 students. For more information, visit wayne.edu

About the Michigan Health Endowment Fund
The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors. More information about the Michigan Health Endowment Fund can be found at mhealthfund.com.

About the Michigan Fitness Foundation
The Michigan Fitness Foundation strives to cultivate a culture of health to transform the status quo and improve the health of all Michiganders. Its mission is to inspire active lifestyles and healthy food choices in the places we live, work, and play. The foundation focuses on increasing access to healthy food and low-cost physical activity opportunities, expanding nutrition and physical education and shaping places to make the healthy choice the easy choice. To learn more, visit michiganfitness.org.

150 years in the heart of Detroit