Health Heroes Community Workshops Bring Hands-On Learning to Youth

July 3, 2024 by Margie Brenner

This spring, thanks to a collaboration between the UVM Larner College of Medicine and UVM Extension 4-H, Health Heroes Community Workshops for Youth offered three hands-on learning sessions to more than 25 local eighth- to 12th-graders interested in health and health care. The partnership extends the reach of Larner to five local counties, advancing steps toward a healthier Vermont.

Anthony Williams, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and assistant dean of Larner admissions (standing at far left), with UVM medical students and UVM STEM students, runs hands-on stations for practicing suturing and using a stethoscope.

This spring, Health Heroes Community Workshops for Youth held three sessions that reached more than 25 eighth- to 12th-graders from Chittenden, Addison, Franklin, Orange, and Washington Counties. A collaboration between UVM Larner College of Medicine program lead and Associate Dean for Admissions Leila Amiri, Ph.D., and UVM Extension 4-H educator Margaret Coan, the program provided opportunities for hands-on, interactive learning to kids interested in health and health care, offering practical knowledge for their own lives and to share with their communities. It also allows Larner to expand the reach of the university and the College to rural areas, and take steps toward a healthier and more informed Vermont. As for the reasoning behind the workshops, Amiri said, “Part of it is giving back to the community, and they are our future workforce. So, our faculty and staff and the physicians will have individuals who hopefully will be within their ranks at some point.”

students practice using stethoscopes and learn how to stitch on suture padsLarner faculty and students, along with UVM STEM Ambassadors and 4-H staff, presented three workshops focused on health care careers and healthy living, prevention strategies and chronic disease, and mental health. Youth experienced suturing on suture pads, using stethoscopes, viewing cells in a microscope, guessing the amount of sugar in soft drinks, playing a Jeopardy-style game with health facts, interacting with medical and college students, learning about common chronic diseases and healthy habits for prevention, and more. Coan hopes that students attending the workshops will receive support to bring forward what they learn. “Hopefully they will get a view of multiple careers that might spark their interest, and they can get strategies they can use in their daily life to enhance their overall health.”

Youth completing all three workshops were presented with a certificate of completion. More workshops are in the works for the fall semester. 

Larner’s Health Heroes Community Workshops for Youth evolved from the 4-H Health HEROES (Health Education Resources for Outreach, Engagement, and Service) program, which helps promote health and well-being for youth through hands-on programming. Ambassadors are teens, ages 14–18, who are invested in healthy living and receive experiential training on health promotion tools such as mindfulness, nutrition, movement, and understanding of brain science and behavior. They use their knowledge and experience to create unique educational programs for youth.

View a video about Health Heroes Workshops

Past news about 4-H Health Heroes program