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Teen Health Leadership Program Visits Washington

In April, nine high school students from the Teen Health Leadership Program (THLP) traveled to Washington, DC to give a presentation on autism at the National Library of Medicine. Their presentation received high accolades from the panel. Janice Kelly, outreach and special populations branch chief at the National Library of Medicine complimented the students’ performance. “The students did a great job and were very engaging. They handled themselves well with questions from the audience and they asked very interesting questions of the audience. Their presentation was just the right amount of time and showed their technical and creative skills.” Additionally, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s deputy director, Betsy L. Humphreys, also offered praise of THLP by saying, “The money spent on this program is well worth it.” The students were accompanied to Washington by Candace Moorer and Monique Hill, from the MUSC Library; and Derek Toth from Communities in Schools.

This year 18 juniors and seniors were selected from St. John’s High School to participate in the THLP. Students were recommended by the school’s faculty and staff based on academic performance, interest in health, and a desire to give back to their communities.

The THLP is a collaboration between the Communities In Schools program at St. John’s High School on Johns Island, and the College of Nursing and Medical Library at MUSC. The THLP seeks to increase health literacy through access to quality health information, develop young leaders, and promote active engagement of students in community activities addressing local health issues. The THLP has been funded for the past six years by a grant that was awarded to the College of Nursing by the National Library of Medicine.

High School Students Create Public Service Video

One aim of the THLP is to increase health literacy among students and community residents. “Understanding how to access credible health information online provides a lifelong source of health information that can be used in making health decisions,” says Deborah Williamson, DHA, MSN, RN, CNM, associate dean for practice and THLP program director.

Each year, students from the THLP project are asked to pick a topic of study. This year they chose autism. Their topic choice was personal to many in the group because some students had family members or knew friends with relatives who have been diagnosed with autism.

Motivated by a visit from M. Frampton Gwynette, MD, MUSC General Psychiatry Clinic director and co-chair for the MUSC Autism Center Strategic Planning Committee, the teens created a public service announcement (PSA) video for their outreach project. The video was written and directed by the students. Dr. Gwynette was very pleased with the outcome and thought the students did a fantastic job. “What a wonderful PSA these students have made,” he said. He even took the time to post their video on Twitter and Facebook. Click here