In 2008, the University of Maryland School of Medicine expanded its Mini-Med School program to Kids Mini-Med at the Salvation Army’s Franklin Square Boys & Girls Club in West Baltimore. Doctors from the School visited the camp weekly to teach about health and encourage the young campers (ages 5 to 13) to consider careers in science and medicine. The idea took off and over the past decade, our faculty have touched the lives of several hundred campers.
On August 16, 2017, the tenth Kids Mini-Med School ended with a class on campus. The last class was followed by a special ceremony in which each participant was presented with a graduation certificate from E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. As he shook hands with each child, Dean Reece asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. He received a variety of answers, from police officer, to nurse, to surgeon, to mermaid – and even one child who declared he was going to become President of the United States. (He certainly had the personality to back up that claim!)
Before graduation, the students attended the final class. Kathy Neuzil, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), discussed what a vaccine is, why people are vaccinated, who should get vaccinated, and how vaccines work. August is National Immunization Awareness Month and as children across the world prepare for a new school year, vaccinations are on the back-to-school list for many. Dr. Neuzil acknowledged getting a vaccine can be painful, but stressed the temporary pain from a shot is much less than the pain these illnesses can cause. “I am kind of scared of shots,” noted one seven-year old, “but I am glad I got my shots so I don’t get sick.” Another child noted that “if you get vaccinated, it helps others not get sick.”
The group played a game that emphasized how vaccines work. They learned how quickly measles can spread through a community that is not vaccinated and how vaccines can stop the chain of infection. They saw how the number of people infected decreased as the number vaccinated increased. Several keen participants even noticed that some children did not get measles even though they were not vaccinated, a concept known as herd immunity. The lesson culminated with a video where superheroes and villains faced off in the battle to defeat diarrheal diseases. With their superpowers, which included vaccines, these heroes conquered the biggest villains sickening kids with diarrhea – rotavirus, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Shigella, and Cryptosporidium.
Dean Reece told the campers “aim high, stay focused, and stick with your goals” and you too, can be a superhero.
About the CVD
Since its inception in 1974, the CVD has worked to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases. The CVD has created and tested vaccines against cholera, typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, non-typhoidal salmonella disease, shigellosis (bacillary dysentery), Escherichia coli diarrhea, nosocomial pathogens, tularemia, influenza, and other infectious diseases. http://www.medschool.umaryland.edu/CVD/
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Commemorating its 210th Anniversary, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world. medschool.umaryland.edu/
• Adult Mini Med School