For the second year in a row, the Wayne State Medical School teamed up with the Detroit Lions to promote health, nutrition and exercise among Detroit Public School students.
Wayne State sophomore medical students Leedor Lieberman, Swati Bajpayee, and Samantha Habhab represented the WSU student organization Sight Savers and educated 27 Mary Mcleod Bethune Elementary students on the importance of eye health.
The Meet Up and Eat Up program kicked off Sept. 23, and will continue to host fourth- and fifth-graders from a Detroit public school each Tuesday throughout October at Eastern Market.
“So many children are never taught that their unhealthy lifestyle choices could one day make them blind,” Lieberman said. “Our goal is to educate children early on to reduce the prevalence of glaucoma and other ocular diseases [in Detroit].”
Lieberman said the elementary school students were intrigued by the Sight Savers presentation, and that the students asked insightful questions.
“Clearly this is something that they find interesting, and maybe want to continue learning about,” Lieberman said.
Dr. Dana Rice, a WSU public health sciences professor, said the program is an opportunity for the elementary students to see young college scholars in the health care field. She believes this could inspire them to pursue a similar career.
“Whether we influence children to want to become ophthalmologists one day, we are working towards a population of more educated children who are aware of their vision health before it gets too serious,” Lieberman said.
Rice, who led the collaboration between Wayne State and the Detroit Lions last year, said the program has broader benefits beyond schoolchildren in Detroit.
“It’s a learning experience for the Wayne State students to get to work with children and to give back to the community,” Rice said.
The elementary students jumped rope, hula hooped and played foursquare with 10 Lions football players, including Wayne State alumnus Joique Bell. The players answered students’ questions about how they eat healthy and how they exercise, and after the discussion, the students and players shopped for Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables around Eastern Market.
Several Wayne State Medical School student organizations, including ROCK – Raising Our Community’s Knowledge – will participate in Meet Up and Eat event Sept. 30.
ROCK will be displaying preserved human brains, livers, hearts and lungs to show the elementary students how unhealthy habits can damage their vital organs and how exercise and nutrition leads to a healthy lifestyle.
The Meet Up and Eat Up event series takes place every Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. throughout October.