The College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS) is using grant funding from Dabo’s All In Team Foundation and Mary Lohr Foundation to support local community health initiatives at Blue Ridge Community Center (BRCC) in Seneca, South Carolina.
During the Spring semester, students taking a community health promotion class with Sarah Hague, lecturer in the Department of Public Health Sciences, partnered with the College and Clemson Rural Health to plan and implement two new, semester-long programs at Blue Ridge Community Center – a bi-weekly lunch and learn series for community members of all ages and an afterschool program for middle school-age youth.
Led by Hague and fellow lecturer in the Department of Public Health Sciences Lindsey Gorham, students organized six lunch and learn sessions throughout the semester and coordinated distribution of food share boxes while University faculty and staff presented on health-related topics like nutrition, mental health, exercise and more. Sessions began with a healthy lunch and pre-survey to determine participants’ existing knowledge of session topics. After each presentation, the session ended with a prize raffle and post-survey to evaluate what participants had learned.
Mandy Cole, a junior in the public health sciences department and student in Hague’s community health promotion class, said she and her classmates worked hard to make this program sustainable for BRCC and transferrable to new sites in the community.
“We collected survey data to evaluate and modify the program in a way that makes it possible for BRCC and other local community centers to implement similar programming on their own,” said Cole. “It was really fun to have this unique, hands-on learning opportunity in a community close to campus, and I learned valuable lessons I will take into my future career.”
Clemson students also met weekly to lead I Am a Scientist, an afterschool program for middle school-age youth. Funded by the National Science Foundation and designed by Dr. Harrison Pinckney, assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, the program focused on the environment, healthy eating and positive health behaviors with a curriculum centered around lessons in history, agriculture and STEM.
Dr. Curtis White, University Professor Emeritus and member of the Blue Ridge Community Center Board of Directors, said Hague and her students did a wonderful job recruiting and engaging community members for each of the programs.
“We are thankful to Ms. Hague and each of the Clemson students who helped us implement these new and engaging programs at the community center,” said White. “The students were dedicated, knowledgeable and provided a wonderful experience for our community members with each session. We hope to continue their hard work and offer programs of this nature in the future.”
At the end of the semester, CBSHS and Clemson Rural Health celebrated the culmination of the lunch and learn series and I Am a Scientist program with a community-wide event at Blue Ridge Community Center.
During the event, Clemson Rural Health staff delivered a heart health presentation and offered free blood pressure screenings from their mobile health unit. Attendees won prizes and learned about social connectedness and relationship building from staff of Clemson’s Institute for Engaged Aging – and Feed and Seed Co., a Greenville based nonprofit food hub, provided lunch with locally sourced vegetables.
“It is always rewarding to see our students put their knowledge into practice,” said Leslie Hossfeld, dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. “Community-based engaged scholarship is a cornerstone of CBSHS and the University’s land grant mission. This great work builds on earlier programming at BRCC, and we look forward to future opportunities to deepen our partnership with the center.”
The year-end celebration was facilitated by CBSHS and Clemson Rural Health with funds from Dabo’s All In Team Foundation.
The Department of Public Health Sciences is part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences is a 21st-century land-grant college joining together a unique combination of schools and departments: Communication, Nursing, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health Sciences and Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. These areas have distinctive characteristics and missions – all joined together by a common thread of service to people and communities.
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