The generous gift of laptops for these schoolchildren is the result of $10,000 in funding from the Clare Family Foundation and the medical staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, says Dr. Charles Cavallo, president of the advisory board for UC Med Mentors and a volunteer assistant professor in the UC Department of Pediatrics.
“We recognize the need with a greater emphasis on distance learning in the midst of COVID-19,” says Cavallo. “Kids are at a disadvantage if they don’t have laptops. The computers come with Microsoft programing packages installed.”
UC Med Mentors was founded in 2001 by Wan Lim, associate professor emeritus of medical education. Youths in the program come from various schools including several near the UC campus, such as North Avondale Montessori School, Clifton Fairview German School, South Avondale School and Rockdale Academy. The mentoring effort at UC targets students in grades three through six, though some students stay with Med Mentors for longer periods.
Dr. Keith Stringer, faculty advisor for the organization, says Med Mentors offers medical students a way to interact with the community and offers a great opportunity firsthand to see the realities for some of their future patients.
“I am a pediatric pathologist, and we are in the business of finding causes for disease,” said Stringer, an assistant professor in the UC College of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s pathologist. “It really has been recognized more and more in recent years that to understand the mechanisms of disease you have to understand the social constructs and determinants. In so many cases it is the social determinants of health that are unfortunately the cause of many of the ailments we see in patients.”
Cavallo said that children in Med Mentors show improvements in school attendance and achievement.
Med Mentors has focused on preparing students for academic success, but mentors also expose students to cultural and extracurricular activities through visits to the museum, the Cincinnati Zoo, arts functions, field trips, sports functions and just plain fun.
For Lawera his time with Romendo offers a welcomed break from the rigors of medical school. He also has a co-mentor, Emilie Buisson, a fellow medical student.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mentors and their young students would see each other regularly. “We went to his school three or five times and it really turned out well,” said Lawera. “We got a chance to meet his friends and talk with his teachers. We took him out to dinner a couple of times and we have baked cookies.”
Featured image at top: Demarco Ervin and Shamina Latimer bring JaiCeon Ervin and Jeremiah Hughes, to pick up laptops from UC Med Mentors. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand