Sunday, October 26, 2008

Students in Action!

The overarching message from the Student Assembly meeting: Students have the power to change the world! When it comes to advocating for health policies, students are uniquely positioned to affect change because they are (in no particular order) 1) energetic and motivated 2) have time 3) can vote 4) are viewed as unbiased 5) have the latest research knowledge and 6) are media darlings.

Panelists Breanna Lathrop and Chris Griggs are deeply involved in the success of HealthSTAT (Health Students Taking Action Together) in Georgia, a statewide nonprofit organization started in 2002 by a small group of medical students concerned about uninsured Americans. Now it is represented by more than 250 health professions students at Georgia universities and is funded primarily through grants from state and national organizations. Breanna and Chris helped lead a successful campaign called “Grady is Vital” to fund an Atlanta hospital set to close due to budget concerns.

“We need to sustain this enthusiasm, regardless of outcome of the presidential election,” said Lissa Knudsen, co-chair of the Student Assembly’s Action Committee. “We need to capitalize on what we’ve started to do. We need to get organized and come together. This is an opportunity for our generation to resist the idea that we are disengaged and apathetic — and this particular niche of students in public health is a powerful group.”

Students who want to get involved with the APHA Student Assembly can e-mail or visit the Student Assembly booth at the Public Health Expo.

— P.T.

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