Published on Monday, March 12, 2018
Media Contact: Annie Oeth
Janiyah Harris took the blood pressure cuff off a wellness fair participant’s arm Friday morning.
“Your blood pressure is normal,” she said as her patient, Tyree Williams, jotted his systolic and diastolic numbers on a sheet of paper before going to tables offering blood glucose testing and lessons in CPR.
Both are students at Jim Hill High in Jackson, where Janiyah is training to be a Community Health Advocate as part of the school’s Health Academy. She’s a sophomore, and Williams is a junior. Health Academy students on Friday were screening their fellow students as part of a wellness fair in the school gym.
“I first thought I wanted to be a dentist,” she said, “but the health fair has encouraged me to think about a medical career.”
To make sure more people can get the medical information they need, the University of Mississippi Medical Center offers CHA training to members of the community so they can become health screeners, said Dr. Josie Bidwell, a UMMC associate professor of nursing who’s worked with Health Academy students and teachers at Jim Hill since 2016.
“Our most important partners are those who make up our community,” she said. Those community partners include Jim Hill and students at other Jackson Public Schools with Health Academies: Forest Hill, Murrah and Lanier.
CHAs are trained to staff health screening events where blood pressure and glucose testing can indicate a referral to medical care is needed.
“We want to give students a skill that they can take back to their communities,” Bidwell said. “My hope is what they learn here will not only improve the students’ lives but will trickle into their homes and families so everyone has the information they need to live healthier lives.”
Brenda Davis, a respiratory therapist who retired from UMMC, was one of several volunteers teaching students how to respond if they see someone unconscious. Rows of CPR mannequins gave students a way to practice chest compressions and, in case of choking, the Heimlich maneuver.
“Learning how to do this today might save someone’s life tomorrow,” Davis said.
For Mossie Redmond, an RN volunteering at the fair, it’s all about sharing knowledge with the next generation.
“When you teach them, and their faces light up with joy, and they realize, ‘I can help,’” Redmond said. “That’s why I volunteer.”
Jadarius Page, a Jim Hill senior, said the day’s lessons in healthy living and emergency response gave him something to consider after graduation.
“I want to study engineering,” he said, “but I might also want to become a paramedic.”
Health fairs such as the one held at Jim Hill show the growth of UMMC’s partnership with JPS’ Health Academies, Bidwell said.
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