UofL med students aim to reduce health disparities, engage others in community project series

STORY BY UOFL SCHOOL OF MEDICINE NEWS

Amid the turmoil of 2020, Onu Udoh, a second-year student in the University of Louisville School of Medicine, decided it was time to take action to reduce the health disparities that plague underserved communities across Louisville.

So he founded GROW502: A Health Disparities Series to highlight these disparities and begin to make changes. Two other medical students and an undergraduate student from UofL joined him to lead the project, which will include anyone from across the university and the community to who would like to participate in the project’s education, engagement and advocacy events.

First-year medical students Lisa Anakwenze and Zoha Mian, along with Chidum Okeke, a senior UofL undergraduate student and Udoh outlined a multimodal approach to transforming  the 2017 Louisville Health Equity Report into a living representation of the current state of health in Louisville. Through art, new media and virtual workshops, the group will educate community members, students, staff, faculty and health care professionals about health disparities revealed in the report, while simultaneously empowering them to enact change. 

Beginning the week of Feb 8, students across the university are invited to join project leaders and community members in weekly activities focused on education, community engagement, advocacy and edutainment focused on ways to reduce health inequity.

Education panels will be led by Udoh and medical interest groups in ob/gyn, pediatrics, nutrition, neurology and psychiatry.

Anakwenze is leading community engagement by working with community partners such as Feed the West - Change Today, Change tomorrow, Family Health Centers, Louisville Lead Prevention Program, the Kentucky State Health Department and Healthy Babies to provide direct avenues to make a change within the Louisville Metro area.

Mian will lead weekly advocacy workshops to bring local policymakers together with students to advocate for a brighter tomorrow.

Okeke’s team will work to package and market the project, using the power of creative media to present unique perspectives on health disparities in Louisville. With edutainment ranging from infographics to videos to cartoons, the marketing team will create an engaging virtual environment to increase community awareness of the disparities that exist, with the goal of reducing their effects. 

“Overall, the mission of this project is to plant seeds of information and inspiration in our local community that will lead to a long-term reduction in Louisville’s health disparities,” Udoh said. “Our role is to support the sustainable growth of our community as we GROW a better tomorrow.”

Students, professionals and community members are encouraged to participate in the events by signing up through EventBrite. The activities, both live and virtual, and a schedule of events will be published on the group’s website www.grow502.org