Want kids in your school to be knowledgeable about COVID-19? You can invite experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland to make regular virtual visits.
The Johns Hopkins Health Education and Training Corps is getting experts into communities as a way to fight the pandemic. Working with kids in schools was inspired by the recognition of how the pandemic can end.
“It won’t end by hospital; it won’t end by a doctor treating COVID. It will end by the community prevention of COVID,” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos a physician in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Galiatsatos is co-director of the Medicine for the Greater Good program and co-chair of JHHS Health Equity, Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Health Equity.
“COVID, right now in December 2021, is a preventable disease. And the only way to prevent it is knowing how to prevent it, being comfortable with the information, but also taking that information and applying it to your everyday day-to-day life,” he said.
Galiatsatos said engage kids, answer their questions, empower them with information, and “suddenly you have this massive peer-to-peer talking. The kids are moving forward, and suddenly the kids are becoming the adults and helping us end the pandemic.”
HEAT Corps team members include everyone from medical students to seasoned physicians and nurses.
“We do train all of our colleagues who will go out into the community not just to sit back. And, this isn’t a science talk, per se, this is meant to come across as human-to-human. So let’s relate the science but in a manner that people can take on and act on,” Galiatsatos said.
The corps goes out into the community, making the scientific concepts understandable and in a way that people can apply them to their everyday lives.
“Obviously, that’s with COVID at the moment, but that’s also the intention moving forward,” Galiatsatos said. “Let’s talk about it. Let’s inform and create actionable youth, but at the same time also begin to improve science literacy.”
The program began in Baltimore City schools in 2020, and has since expanded to include schools from San Francisco to Rhode Island, Texas and Alabama in the U.S. and from India to the Sudan. It’s being taught in English, Spanish and Greek.
“I think we’re setting the stage for an initiative that isn’t just a moment in time. It’s destined to become a true movement. So yeah, we’re everywhere. If you want us in your classroom, just let us know,” Galiatsatos said.
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