Youths explore health care careers

February 16, 2007
By

SANDRA STOREY

HYDE SQ.—An innovative program in Jamaica Plain is helping expose at-risk teens to the opportunities available to them in the health care field by giving them real experience and hands-on training. The program also addresses the national shortage of registered nurses and other health care workers.

The Health Career Ambassadors Program (H-CAP)—part of the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF)—offers 35 young people ages 14 to 21 opportunities in the health care arena by providing job shadowing and technical and professional development training at four community health centers in JP, including Brookside Community Health Center, Dimock Community Health Center, Martha Eliot Community Health Center and Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. Students work at the health centers seven to eight hours a week.

For another two to three hours, they work on special projects, according to Yi Chin Chen, director of life-long learning and economic development at HSTF. Right now they are putting together a book about fitness for young people. Recently, a group was trained to do presentations to seniors at the Julia Martin House, Nate Smith House and 125 Amory Street about colon cancer. They are paid a stipend for their work.

“Kids walk away feeling a strong interest in a career,” Chen said in a recent interview. “Their new experiences change their perspective. They think about health issues.”

Deandre Reid, 19, works at Brookside Community Health Center assisting Mirta Montejo in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. He does filing and sometimes helps nurses weigh and measure children. He said he is also excited about the fitness project, hoping to maybe work on a video for young people. The Bunker Hill Community College student said he feels he is getting “skills for the future” in the H-CAP program. “It shows me options,” he said.

Now in its third year, H-CAP is carrying out its youth training mission with help from a $20,000 grant from the Boston Scientific Foundation.

Focused on youth development, the Hyde Square Task Force, headquartered at 375 Centre St., oversees several programs and job opportunities for young people to get involved in—from mural painting at train stations to peer tutoring to peer dance instruction. These initiatives help young people develop professional and social skills, earn money and become more civic-minded.

The foundation was created to complement Boston Scientific’s core mission of improving lives through medical devices. The foundation’s primary focus is on addressing disparities in healthcare quality and access, and on the promotion of education. Health-related grants seek to improve the wellness of individuals with the greatest unmet needs, while education-related grants seek to improve educational opportunities and skill development for those at risk of not fulfilling their potential.

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