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UNC-CH Partners with Community in Many Efforts during Spring Break

Students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill completed their ninth year of service in Tyrrell County for their spring break on Mar. 16.

The group consisted of 17 students and three faculty from UNC’s Division of Physical Therapy, School of Nursing, Gillings School of Global Public Health and the College of Arts and Sciences.

There were a wealth of projects and services rendered with the guidance and support of community partners.

Partnerships with the school system were extremely fruitful. UNC groups partnered with middle and high school teacher Krista Horn and elementary school teacher Terry Donoghue to teach students about the importance of lifelong physical fitness and healthy eating habits as well as teamwork and relationship building.

In addition to education about physical fitness and healthy relationships, UNC spearheaded a new mentoring component with the Columbia High School senior class.

With extensive help from Assistant Principal and Director of the Early College program, Will Ziegler, the students engaged in conversations about college preparedness, career trajectory and other opportunities for life after high school. The high school students were extremely receptive leading to a very productive conversation.

Furthermore, the students collaborated with Dee Dee Bullock at the Tyrrell County Senior Citizens Center to conduct falls risks assessments and other health screening services such as blood pressure. Additionally, the students conducted five home visits to provide in-home screenings and repaired home fixtures to increase safety and mobility. Home repairs would not have been possible without the generous help of Harold Kirkland at the Atlantic Building Supply.

The students collaborated with community partners in ongoing efforts to combat food insecurity. Students partnered with Sue Griffin from Columbia Medical Center to create healthy food guides for families and worked with Henry Hill at the Church Road Emergency Food Closet by unloading deliveries and reorganization and clean-up of the facility.

In addition, the students engaged in community efforts of beautification projects through waterfront cleanup, landscaping at Pocosin Arts, clean up at Pettigrew State Park and gardening at the St. Andrews Episcopal Church Parish House.

The students left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and would like to extend a huge thank you to Tyrrell County residents for welcoming them into their community. Each interaction left an impression on their perceptions of rural communities and will be carried into their own future practices as health care professionals.