Albert Schweitzer Fellows
For 2015-2016, three MGH Institute students are among the 16 students named as Schweitzer Fellows by the Boston chapter of the organization:
(L-R) Jennifer Lettsome, Kristin M. Smith, and Hayley Younkin
- Jennifer Lettsome, a first-year Master of Science in Nursing student
- Kristin M. Smith, a Doctor of Physical Therapy student, and
- Hayley Younkin, a first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student
Since its launch in 1992, 36 students from MGH Institute of Health Professions have been named a U.S. Schweitzer Fellow. They have joined the more than 250 students chosen annually from the nation's top health and human services schools in becoming a part of the U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program® and following in Dr. Albert Schweitzer's footsteps.
Schweitzer Fellows – mostly university graduate students – partner with community-based organizations to identify an unmet health need, design a yearlong service project with a demonstrable impact on that need, and bring that project from idea to implementation and impact – all on top of their usual graduate school responsibilities.
After successfully completing their initial year, they become members of the Schweitzer Fellows for Life alumni network of over 2,000 Leaders in Service who are dedicated and skilled in meeting the health needs of underserved communities.
The Boston program is the oldest of the Schweitzer program sites in the U.S.
Jennifer Lettsome is a Master of Science in Nursing student. Working with Boston ABCD Health Services, she will address the prevalence of unsafe sex practices for Black and Latina women and their partners in Boston. She will provide workshops that will include: sharing the responsibility of making sexual health choices, negotiating skills around relationships and condom usage, and positive messages around the female condom.
In addition, she will address the stigma attached to these conversations in communities of color through the implementation of creative outreach programs in non-traditional environments such as fashion shows, basketball games, natural hair meet-ups and other social events. In addition to empowering Black and Latina women and their partners to share responsibility of making sexual health choices, Lettsome hopes her participants will leave feeling better able to talk about safe sex between partners.
Kristin M. Smith, a Doctor of Physical Therapy student, will partner with Adaptive Climbing Group, where at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville she will address the lack of inclusive recreational opportunities for children with disabilities in greater Boston by establishing a youth adaptive climbing program at the indoor rock climbing facility.
In addition to encouraging youth attendance at weekly adaptive climbing clinics, the program will integrate adaptive climbers into BKB youth programs, Kid's Academy, and Adventure Days. Ultimately, the program aims to benefit its participants by reducing isolation, fostering healthy habits and attitudes towards physical activities, developing positive social skills, and building self-confidence. The program will also benefit the greater climbing community by promoting awareness of capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Hayley Younkin is in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. At St. Mary’s Bridge Home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, she will address the mental health needs and social-emotional wellbeing of children who have experienced trauma or witnessed violence and are currently residing in a short-term crisis intervention center in Upham’s Corner, Dorchester.
She is developing and implementing a program of social-emotional learning groups based on a trauma-informed approach. The program will assist the Bridge Home in helping these children continue to build resiliency and emotional intelligence so that they will feel empowered to develop healthier coping strategies.