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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Getting students interested in health professions is the goal of a $400,000 grant

New Mexico State University's Southern Area Health Education Center (SoAHEC) hopes to improve health habits and stimulate interest in health professions by involving middle school students in Youth Health Clubs.

out $400,000 in grant funds from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, SoAHEC has started clubs at three middle schools in the Gadsden School District, said Linda Sandoval, coordinator. More than 40 eighth-grade students at Santa Teresa, Gadsden and Chaparral middle schools have joined the clubs since the pilot project began last spring, she said.

Sandoval said the students select a health topic they want to research for a presentation to their peers. They also attend workshops, conferences and field trips throughout the year. The grant will provide about $100,000 for the project each year for four years, Sandoval said.

"By exposing students to health care issues, we hope to encourage them to take a strong interest in improving their personal health habits and become interested in health professions," Sandoval said. "Most of the students participating have expressed an interest in wanting to be of service."

Sandoval said the students have discussed health topics ranging from diabetes to teen pregnancy. She said the students have made presentations at the weekly club meetings that vary from power point to role-playing skits.

Sandoval was hired to coordinate the Youth Health Clubs and be a mentor to the students participating. SoAHEC has several mentoring programs aimed at middle and high school students.

The mission of SoAHEC, which also functions as the Border Health Education and Training Center (BHETC), is to improve health care in the southern 17 counties of New Mexico. SoAHEC is funded by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine through New Mexico State's Health Science Department.

For more information about the Youth Health Clubs, call Sandoval at (505) 646-2087.

Julie M. Hughes
Jan. 28, 2002