The Original Plan
When originally applying for the Change Grant back in January 2020, Serena, James, and Maria proposed for the creation of an after-school interactive kidney informative program for a local middle school in an underserved area. Kidney health is not emphasized in health education classes, nor directly screened for by primary care physicians. There was a clear need for promoting nutritional, exercise, and wellness advice at an early age for the prevention of CKD.
As the months of May and June continued with progressively accelerating COVID-19 cases, the original plan was not feasible any longer. During this time, the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining traction, which brought attention to the alarmingly high rates of COVID-19 cases amongst people of color as compared to their White counterparts. This trend can also be seen in people with CKD, with Hispanics being 1.5x more likely to develop this chronic disease and kidney failure. The Change Grant was the perfect opportunity to address the inequalities existent and rooted in the healthcare system, starting with trying to increase the percentage of Hispanic and Black physicians to match their makeup within the overall population.
A Webinar Series
The world of Zoom and Webex were demonstrating that events could be converted into an online format, and bring people from all parts of the world to join from the comfort of their home. The original plan involved only one school, but the webinar series seemed to be the perfect fit for reaching as many URM students as possible from all over CT. In collaboration with the rest of the UConn KDSAP E-Board, Serena, James, and Maria began to brainstorm topic ideas, guest speakers, and outreach to several nonprofits, district superintendents, and high schools across CT to get the word out about the launch. Ultimately, the webinar series raises awareness for the current lack of representation in medicine, and advocates for URM students by providing educational resources regarding the college admissions process, financial aid, and the steps to a prehealth career.