Volunteer Spirit and Donations Fuel Children’s Health Hut

Contributor
School of Dentistry

At the recent Sunday Streets event in November in the Inner Sunset, a group of UCSF students set up a booth to promote health for kids.

Children’s Health Hut has become a regular participant at public events around The City.  The organization visits different neighborhood playgrounds, community centers and schools, opening its canopy of free, fun, interactive health activities to residents of the community. The festive games, animal balloons and music encourage children and parents to learn more about their health and health care options.

The organization relies on donations to operate, and recently received $5,000 from Dr. Robert Ho of the School of Dentistry and his associates. Some of the donors were alumni who volunteered for the organization as students and know what a difference a simple dental screening or medical exam can make for a child and his or her parents.

“I remember when I was a dental student working at Children’s Health Hut,” said Dr. Joyce Cheng, a graduate of the UCSF School of Dentistry (2008) who also did her peridontic residency at UCSF in 2011. “It was a great experience, and I hope more students can experience it as well.”

The donations will be used to expand the organization’s programs and services, which are run by student volunteers from the UCSF Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing and Physical Therapy. The students learn about each community, including health issues faced by its children. They then collaborate with community organizations to create a customized Health Hut in an easily accessible, neighborhood location.

Children’s Health Hut holds roughly eight events a year (two to three per quarter).  Between 30 and 40 volunteers participate in each event, depending the size of the health fair. The various schools run specific programs at the events.

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The School of Dentistry provides dental screenings, fluoride varnishes, proper tooth brushing and flossing education, oral hygiene education and face painting. The School of Pharmacy provides nutrition games, a Medicine vs. Candy game and a Proper Hand-Washing game.

The School of Medicine provides vision screenings, blood pressure and biomass index (BMI) screenings (in conjunction with the School of Nursing), development and neuro screenings, skin screenings and asthma screenings.

Besides blood pressure and BMI screenings, the UCSF School of Nursing runs an obstacle course in conjunction with the School of Physical Therapy.

UCSF health professional students created the Children’s Health Hut in 1998, after witnessing the difficulties involved in enrolling children in the Healthy Families health plan and the substantial need for improved health education and outreach to under-served communities.

“CHH is one of my favorite ways to give back to the community in San Francisco,” said Sanjeeta Shergill, a third-year dental student. “It's fun, hands on, and I learned about how important it is to educate both the parents, as well as the child, when it comes to oral hygiene."

The next Health Hut will be held in the winter quarter.  To learn more about Children’s Health Hut or to make a donation, visit http://chh.atucsf.com/index.php.