Wednesday, June 19

Student group plans events for National Public Health Week


A public health student group organized a series of lectures and activities that will start Sunday to celebrate National Public Health Week.

The series of events will focus on how public health intersects with different disciplines. The events will be both active and discussion-based, and will last from Sunday through Friday.

Students of Color for Public Health, a student-led organization in the Fielding School of Public Health, aims to strengthen the social support and advocacy efforts for students of color.

Eduardo Zamora, an executive board member for Students of Color for Public Health and a graduate student in the Fielding School of Public Health, said they wanted to convey the idea that public health is fundamentally intertwined with other disciplines.

“Public health is not just in the school, but really it matters in your everyday life,” he said.

The group has been organizing the event for the past eight years to show students the work that students of color, and students in general, are doing toward health equity, said Francisco Espinoza, an executive board member for Students of Color for Public Health and a graduate student in the Fielding School of Public Health.

This year, they wanted to emphasize the many different facets of public health, such as campus bike access, disaster preparedness and how public health is connected to the law, social welfare, education and urban planning departments on campus, Espinoza said.

“We wanted to loosely follow the national themes that were provided, but we definitely wanted to put our own spin on it … and to make sure we made them specifically relevant toward what we experience,” said Stephania Olamendi, an executive board member for Students of Color for Public Health and a graduate student in the Fielding School of Public Health.

The event cost $1,500, which came from the Fielding School of Public Health, Zamora said.

The start of the week will coincide with CicLAvia, a non-competitive bike ride in which roads are closed to cars along Wilshire Boulevard. Other events include the first annual “Tour de UCLA,” a bike ride led by the UCLA Bicycle Coalition around the UCLA campus, and yoga in the sculpture garden and discussions led by public health professionals.

The week will end on Friday with a panel and networking event that will explain what public health is and how it relates to other disciplines. Students from Apex Academy, a high school in Hollywood, who Students of Color for Public Health mentor, will also attend the event.

The group has typically been the leader in putting on national public health week for UCLA. This year they wanted to coordinate more with other groups, such as the UCLA Bicycle Coalition and different faculty at the Fielding School of Public Health to make it a stronger event, she added.

Sandra de Castro Buffington, the director for the Fielding School of Public Health Global Media Center for Social Impact, plans to lead a discussion on Thursday about the use of storytelling in public health.

She said research has found that the more compelling and engrossing a story is, the greater knowledge change for the viewer.

“Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to reach people,” she said. “When we finger wag and lay facts on people they tend to forget them … but if we tell a really compelling story … with health content, we can reach hundreds of millions of viewers around the world with health messages.”

She said she hopes the discussion will inspire public health students to consider creativity and storytelling in their future careers.

“We’re trying to encourage this process where its not just Students of Color for Public Health taking a role but also making sure that different departments, different schools and different community partners do too,” Espinoza said.

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