Med students helping younger generation get Fit for Life

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Members of the Roos on Call student service organization lead a group of fourth and fifth graders at Calvary Lutheran School in learning about the food pyramid.


It doesn’t take long for medical students working in the outpatient clinics of Truman Medical Center to see the consequences of unhealthy lifestyles. Poor nutrition and obesity are far too common culprits.

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Kayla Briggs, far right, and Logan Burrow, members of Roos on Call, talk with children about the Fit for Life program.

That’s why Kayla Briggs, a fifth-year student, and her student community service group, Roos on Call, are doing something to make a difference.

Combining interests in curriculum development and children’s health, Briggs and her organization launched a month-long lesson plan for elementary school children called Fit for Life. Roos on Call is teaming up with teachers at Calvary Lutheran School to present lessons on healthy lifestyles to 38 fourth and fifth graders.

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Marjorie Farrington, left, and Josh Gollub performed a short skit on opening day of the Fit for Life program at Calvary Lutheran School.

“All of us have been in the Truman clinic and have seen the effects of Type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure,” Briggs said. “If there’s a way we can get out there and prevent that through early education for the younger generation, we’re happy to do that.”

Briggs, who started Roos on Call a few years ago, created the curriculum with the help of David Skoglund, M.D., a pediatrics resident at Children’s Mercy. Skoglund developed a similar program when he was a medical student at Creighton. He shared his curriculum with Briggs and third-year student Danielle Graves, who tailored the program to fit the Calvary Lutheran students.

A kickoff program had nearly a dozen School of Medicine students leading small groups of the elementary students through presentations on healthy foods to eat, heart health and fun things to do to stay active.

The month-long program consists of 20 lessons, following a theme for each week: setting goals and establishing healthy habits; healthy diets; exercise; and continuing healthy lifestyles through good hygiene.

Students are taking turns leading six of the lessons, lasting 30 minutes to an hour each. The school’s teachers lead the remainder of the lessons each day, using materials and the curriculum supplied by Roos on Call.

Briggs had plenty of help. Asma Akhtar, a fourth-year student, is the program’s co-chair. Logan Burrow, a third-year medical student, attends church at Calvary Lutheran and connected the organization with the elementary teachers. Sarah Hampl, M.D., a childhood obesity specialty at Children’s Mercy, and Roos on Call faculty sponsor Sandra Smith, have been instrumental in getting the program off the ground, Briggs said.

“Healthy living and lifestyle activities don’t have to be something that takes up half a day,” Briggs said. “It can be something short, but very impactful. I think as long as you’re excited about it, it can make a huge difference in these kids’ lives. That’s something we really want to prove to these kids, the teachers and everyone who’s involved with the program.”

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