- By Megan Morley Thomas
At an after-school youth center, a bunch of teens gather to play a game and learn about making healthier dietary choices. Trevor Pour probably already had enough on his plate as a student at the College of Medicine, but Pour still managed to find time to create some lessons on health information for young people at Burlington's King Street Youth Center.
"I had taught school for a year before coming to med school, and this experience at King Street reminded me how much I liked working with middle-school aged kids," says Pour. His community project developed out of an encounter brought about by his Medical Student Leadership Group, a key component for first-year students in the Vermont Integrated Curriculum. Pour put together a project based around 20 planned health information sessions for youths. He found that, in practice, even the most careful planning sometimes has to be adjusted.
Capturing his audience
"I was way too ambitious and over-prepared for this audience," he says. "The kids I was seeing at King Street had just gotten out of a full day of school. Now, here I was showing up and thinking they'd all just sit down and listen to me? It was clear right away that wasn't going to work, so I went back and changed how I was going to approach this."
Pour's reformulated approach involved throwing out the lectures, and instead building group activities that he could lead along with one of the teens from the center. These peer-led sessions covered issues ranging from proper nutrition to the dangers of cigarette smoking to the importance of wearing bike helmets and car seat belts. For the session on nutrition, Pour and his young "co-host" led the group through a game show designed to highlight the highs and lows of sugar consumption.
"This change really turned my project around," he says. "Even after this project is over, I plan to keep volunteering at the center, and I hope this kind of program can continue with med students next year."