Free sports physicals a hit with local school children

UMKC School of Medicine Students, residents and faculty provided free phyicals for about 400 students as part of the RBI program in cooperation with the Kansas City Gilrs and Boys Club.
UMKC School of Medicine Students, residents and faculty provided free phyicals for about 400 students as part of the RBI program in cooperation with the Kansas City Gilrs and Boys Club.

Hundreds of local school children will get a chance to play in organized sports leagues this summer, thanks to free physicals provided by students and faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Physicals are required in the Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, which provides boys and girls, ages 5 to 18, with the opportunity to play baseball and softball.

“The students enjoyed interacting with the kids and parents,” said George Harris, M.D.,  professor of medicine and assistant dean for Years 1 and 2 Medicine, who is the faculty adviser for the program.

Sports physicals usually cost a regular appointment at a doctor’s office, typically $50 or more. Sometimes sports physicals will be discounted to $10 through organizations.

But free physicals are crucial for the success of the RBI program, said Ronald Stevenson, director of RBI in Kansas City. To play for a season costs only $25 per player, but that pays for uniforms, equipment, trophies, field maintenance and umpires.

“We have families with two and three kids in the program, and buying physicals on minimum wage, like many of our families make, is hard,” Stevenson said. “Meanwhile, it’s critically important that each child is required to have a physical because it assesses health and promotes wellness. Many of the kids never see a doctor so this is their chance.”

The RBI program, which has helped produce professional players, encourages college for each child. The interaction with UMKC School of Medicine students works as a bridge to that goal, and also reflects UMKC’s ongoing commitment to engagement with the urban community.

UMKC students Kevin Gray, MS 5, Irene Israel, MS 3, Susamita Kesh, MS 2, Monica Mikkilineni, MS 5r, Felicia Ratnaraj, MS 5, Ty Smith, MS 5, David Testrake, MS 5, and Amanda Williams, MS 5, volunteered at the event. Residents Mary Hoang, M.D., and Chris Jenks, M.D., and family medicine faculty including Miranda Huffman, M.D., Crystal Jones, M.D., and Harris also worked.

“It’s rewarding for everyone involved,” Harris said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

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