Sunday, March 17, 2024

Member Focus: Kimberly Fogg. Global Sustainable Partnerships (GSP) Youth Program. "Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Disease". February 2023

A groundbreaking effort is under way to try to break the cycle of chronic diseases in families and communities of color in Montgomery County. The non-profit group Global Sustainable Partnerships, with help from the Black Physicians and Healthcare Network and Howard University School of Medicine, has created a unique program that will enroll 40 high school students in an after-school, 9-week course at Howard University School of Medicine.  It begins on Feb. 22.

The goal of the course is simple; to provide young people with the knowledge and the skills they need to live a healthy lifestyle.  However the course will provide much more than teaching students the importance of choosing healthy foods and exercise.  Students will learn to become self-advocates by learning about the importance of getting yearly checkups including dental and eye appointments.  While the students are learning these new lifestyle skills, they also will take on the role of a teacher or mentor.  Each student will be paired with a family member or someone in the community who is struggling with a chronic illness.  Those students will work in their communities to affect change by sharing their knowledge.
“The reason this program is so important is because it does so many things, which I’m just so excited about. One, it exposes students about chronic illnesses that plague black and brown communities, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, you name it. And a lot of our family members have it. And so we do not want these kids to grow up, and have the same fate,” Kimberly Fogg, founder and CEO of Global Sustainable Partnerships said.

Partnership with Howard University School of Medicine

Medical residents at Howard University Hospital will meet with the students weekly and teach them about chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.  The residents also will provide students with a roadmap to help with prevention and treatment.

“The students are going to be exposed to the doctors and that also opens up the door for mentorship opportunities for these kids. It also opens up the door to get them career ready, right? Maybe perhaps they might be interested in going into the medical field,” Fogg said.

“We realized that during COVID, there were not enough black and brown health workers in our communities to start doing the outreach and raising awareness.  So this is really preparing these kids, and it’s giving them an opportunity to be exposed to universities, giving them an opportunity to be exposed to medical professionals, it’s getting them exposed to people who look like them, that are medical professionals,” Fogg added.

Hope For The Future

While this program is just getting off the ground, Fogg hopes it will expand.  She knows change does not happen overnight, but she believes younger generations can lead the way.

“I’m hoping we are creating a community of health and wellness, and starting with the kids so that when they grow up there will be a behavioral change and an attitude change.  I want them to have this, as part of their DNA, so when they grow up, they will know what to eat and to have some form of moving,” Fogg said.

Mentoring Others

Students will learn the skills of living a healthy lifestyle, and they will be taught how to pass on their knowledge in an encouraging way.

“We’ve got to train them in a way where it’s loving.  It is part of using the dialogue that we know is positive so people will want to participate,” Fogg said.

Once students train either a family or community member, Fogg hopes the family or community member will take it upon him or herself to train other family members and friends.  She said that is how this initiative will grow.

Awards Ceremony

When the program concludes later this spring, Howard University School of Medicine will host an awards ceremony where students will receive a certificate and some gifts for participating.  The hope is that the students and their mentees will attend and share what they learned from this experience.

Kimberly L. Fogg 
Founder & CEO, Global Sustainable Partnerships (GSP)    
Chair, Women’s Program Engagement Council (WPEC) and Titans Tank    

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