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Students Give a Semester of Community Service

February 13, 2020
Community Heart 250x

MLK Jr. Semester of Service Award Winners

Two student projects—one driven by medical students, the other by high schoolers—received 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Semester of Service Awards from Baystate Health.

Both projects work with community organizations on priority health issues identified in the 2019 community health needs assessment of Baystate Medical Center's service area: interpersonal violence in teens, and high rates of chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

*A.D.V.I.S.O.R.Y.* (Advocating for Decreased Violence in Springfield by Organizing Resilient Youth)

Participating Students

High school students participating in the Baystate Springfield Education Partnership

Community Partner

FOCUS Springfield Community Access Television

Target Population

High school-aged youth in Hampden County


Interpersonal Violence

  • Many students experienced dating violence, 43% had experienced aggressive behavior from their significant other and 29% had experienced physical abuse from their significant other.
  • 67% of all assault arrests in the City of Springfield were for domestic violence offenses.

Program Description

Over the Spring 2020 semester, BSEP students will learn from a range of health professionals and community advocates—from the emergency room to the court room—to get an understanding of the prevalence of youth interpersonal violence in their community, and how it relates to healthcare.

Topics include decision-making and healthy relationships, Springfield Youth Health Survey findings and implications, sexual assault, vicarious trauma, and the ED and the physician's role.

For a week in July, they will then work with FOCUS Springfield Community Access Television to create a violence prevention campaign and PSA for their peers. Students will be responsible for script development, acting, and production assistance. The PSA will be promoted to school administrators and community leaders to generate interest in using it for their schools and agencies.

The ultimate goal is for the BSEP students to develop advocacy skills to promote violence prevention in their schools and communities.

Contact: Kelly Lamas, BSEP Project Coordinator

Martin Luther King Jr. Food Justice Fair

Participating Students

First-year medical students in the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health track at UMass Medical School-Baystate campus

Community Partner

Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Community Center

Target Population

Residents of the Springfield community who participate in an emergency food pantry


High Rates of Chronic Disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death, followed by cancer.
  • ~ 11% of Hampden County residents have diabetes.
  • 4 out of 5 adults over 65 in the County have high blood pressure.
  • ~29% of adults in Hampden County and 37% in Springfield are obese, compared to 24% for Massachusetts.

Lack of Transportation

  • ~14% of Hampden County residents and 23% of Springfield residents do not have personal transportation or rely on public transportation.

Program Description

PURCH medical students will reach out to residents experiencing food insecurity by conducting a Food Justice Fair at a location they already frequent, the emergency food pantry at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Community Center in Springfield.

Students will be trained to provide nutrition counseling and resource education, and will staff activity stations focused on healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as screening and education for diabetes, hypertension, and weight management. They will also provide assistance to families who face barriers accessing healthy food resources and benefits programs, such as SNAP.

Based on participant feedback from a previous PURCH project there, more basic medical care and related education/resources will be provided. A mobile unit equipped to perform medical check-ups will be provided by Baystate Health. Knowing their individual health status will help guide participants to appropriate stations.

The Food Justice Fair will also include community organizations and local resources to help meet participant requests for assistance with other social and economic factors that affect health, such as employment and housing.

Contact: Jaclyn Wong, PURCH Class of 2023

Baystate’s Martin Luther King Jr Semester of Service Award

The award supports projects driven by students in health profession programs that benefit communities in Franklin, Hampshire, or Hampden Counties. Projects must address either a priority health need identified in Baystate’s Community Health Needs Assessment, a social determinant(s) of health defined by MA Department of Public Health, or a health disparity or inequity.

The MLK Semester of Service Award is sponsored by the Offices of Healthcare Education, Diversity and Inclusion, and Community and Government Relations.

Community Health Needs Assessment

The 2019 CHNA was conducted by the Coalition of Western Massachusetts Hospitals/Insurer, a partnership of non-profit hospitals, clinics, and insurers, including Baystate Health. Findings identified priority health issues including community level social and economic determinants that impact health, access and barriers to quality health care, and health conditions and behaviors.