Evan Hansen ’19 — Over the past eight weeks I have been working with the IUPUI Fairbanks School of Public Health. Each year the Your Life, Your Story summer camp supports up to 30 low income campers in a program, designed to reduce their risk of poor health outcomes. The 5 day camp took place from June 19-23 and it was one of the most fulfilling weeks of my life. This camp provided teens (ages 12-18) the opportunity to learn problem solving skills and develop their sense of identity and sense of self through creative outlets such as storytelling, music, art, and sports.
It has been a while since I was last at a summer camp, but I quickly felt the same enthusiasm. The three sessions I went to on a daily basis were storytelling, music, and theater. I am certainly not gifted in music or theater but I wanted to show the campers I could learn just like them. Each camper highlighted their interests on an initial survey, and the professional storyteller was a very popular choice. In addition to the three activities there was a resilience building session led by community leaders. For about two hours each day, the resilience building involved various individual and group activities. As a mentor I was responsible for organizing events, observing the campers, and of course having a great time by participating in the games.
Our staff of ten mentors was comprised from all across the country. Since most of the campers spoke Spanish as well as English, it was very useful to have a couple mentors that were fluent in Spanish. From Colombia, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and North Carolina we all shared a similar passion for working in health careers. Some of us have medical school ambitions while others have recently graduated from IUPUI with degrees in public health. The interactions I had with the campers, mentors, and activity leaders affirmed my interest in physical therapy because I was able to witness the importance of serving others. The camp was a very fulfilling opportunity for myself because I was able to practice Spanish in a very active setting.
Throughout this internship I have developed my leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Since this was the fourth year of the camp, a former mentor trained myself when I arrived back in May. With only a couple days before she was leaving for Swaziland, we had a lot to cover in a short amount of time. Over the next several weeks I attended various public health meetings with Dr. Bigatti and aided her with a couple other projects. Sitting at a desk planning events and training other mentors is all worth it for the incredible fun that awaited at Your Life, Your Story.