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STORY PITCH: High school students tackle childhood health challenges in their communities

Two girls sit at desk with blue gloves on and clear masks over their faces holding yellow material in hand

The camp aims to help children develop healthy lifestyles as their early habits affect health later in life

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What’s the News?
Next week, 125 high school juniors from 26 counties across West Virginia will attend a Health Sciences Technology Academy Biomedical Summer Institute camp at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center to learn about early-childhood obesity, healthy diets and best practices in physical activity. They will also devise their own research projects related to childhood obesity and its prevention. In the fall, they will carry out their projects in local after-school programs for preschoolers. The purpose is to develop healthy lifestyles in children as their early habits affect health later in life.  

They will collaborate with faculty and staff from various schools and programs at WVU.

During the week, students will participate in breakout sessions across campus on topics such as exercise physiology; heart, lungs and organs; early childhood nutrition and physical activity; diabetes intervention; and the Zebrafish lab. Wednesday afternoon will entail a visit to the anatomy and nursing simulation laboratories at the WVU Health Sciences Center.

Media are invited to participate in these sessions next week (July 23-27) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or 1:15 to 5:00 p.m. and Wednesday afternoon in the anatomy and simulation labs.

Students will present their research projects during the closing ceremony Friday, July 27, at 8:45 a.m. at WVU Health Sciences’ Okey Patteson Auditorium.

Quotes and Comments
“This is citizen science. Kids are actually going out and collecting data with scientists. The students are using the data for their projects; the scientists are using all of the kids’ data for their own work, and they are using the HSTA students as their vectors for change in the pre-K area for all of the various ways that kids can help kids change their lifestyle. This program is capitalizing on the ability of children to make a difference in their home community if they are given the tools and the power to do it.” —Ann Chester, Ph.D., WVU Health Sciences assistant vice president for education partnerships, leads WVU’s involvement with HSTA

Target Audiences
• People interested in health and nutrition

• People interested in education

• People interested in community service

• People interested in the growing gap between science and the public

• Parents with preschool and school-aged children

Health Sciences & Technology Academy

WVU researchers to hold NIH-funded camp that turns high schoolers into citizen scientists




Ann Chester, Ph.D., assistant vice president for health sciences for education partnerships

Sean P. Freeland, curriculum coordinator and HSTA camp director, West Virginia University

Tara Scatterday, Executive Director
WVU Health Sciences Communications and Institutional Relations