The Big Country AHEC (Area Health Education Center) conducted the 3rd Annual Health Matters Summer Camp during the week of June 10th – 13th at ACU. The camp hosted 24 high school students from across the Big Country, including one from as far south as Mason, Texas and as far north as South Orange, New Jersey. The Health Matters Summer Camp provided area high school students with information, activities, and hands-on learning experiences in the world of health careers. Campers participated in tours of local health care facilities and local health professions training programs including the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing and Cisco Junior College Respiratory Therapy Program at Hendrick’s Medical Center. Hendrick’s Medical Center also provided a view of their Radiology Program for the campers.
In addition, the campers had the opportunity to tour health career programs at all three Abilene universities: the Hardin Simmons Physical Therapy program, the McMurry University Pre-Health Professions Program, and the Abilene Christian University Social Work Department. Texas Tech School of Pharmacy also gave the campers a tour of their new facility and some insight into a career in pharmacy. The campers also toured the West Texas Rehab, Presbyterian Medical Care Mission, and traveled to Coleman to tour the Coleman County Hospital and talk with Coleman County EMS.
Perhaps a highlight of the week’s activities was a day trip to the Texas Tech Health Science Center in Lubbock where the campers were able to witness many different program including a Clinical Simulation Lab and Telemedicine. Upon leaving the Health Science Center, campers toured the Medical Examiner’s Office before returning to Abilene.
High school students from across the Big Country were selected to attend the Health Matters Summer Camp based on their application and recommendation from a teacher. Each student accepted to the camp displayed a vested interest in entering a health related career program upon high school graduation. The following students were chosen to attend the 3rd Annual Health Matters Summer Camp: Cassidy Cantu, a return camper from Roby, Jordan Arnold, a return camper from Roby, Okwui Ugahaze from Abilene, Sarah Moore from Avoca, Kristen Moore from Lueders, Cody Sliger, a return camper from Cross Plains, Jessica and Leah Vanderpool from Benjamin, Michelle Bridgestock from Abilene, Adam Vasquez from Rule, Morgan Lisle from Rule, Tina Paradez of Abilene, Jacob Mota of Ballinger, Jeremy Parchment of East Orange, New Jersey, Sunnie and Nikki Kuna of Abilene, Allison Petty of Rule, Marian Cabasal of Abilene, Reece Halffman of Coleman, Caroline Campbell of Abilene, Paige Blair of Mason, Elmina Banks of Knox City, Megan Trietsen of Olney, and Eric Casillas of O’Brien.
When asked if the Health Matters Summer Camp helped with a decision about a career in the medical or health services field, return camper Jordan Arnold of Roby stated “Yes! The camp helps me more every year!” Nikki Kuna of Abilene had a lot to say when asked if the camp helped her with a decision about a health career, “Honestly, no. It was a great camp and it allowed me to see other professions in the medical field, besides what I thought I wanted to be. Now that I have explored other careers, I feel like I want to do everything!” Allison Petty of Rule said she would recommend the Health Matters Summer Camp to her friends because, “It is so fun and you get a lot of experience and learning.”
The Health Matters Summer Camp is made possible through the support of the Hodges Foundation and Junior League of Abilene. Opportunities like the Health Matters Summer Camp are the result of partnerships with communities, community health professionals, health professions training schools and the Big Country Area Health Education Center (AHEC). The Big Country AHEC is a service of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health and the West Central Texas Council of Governments.