The newest program at the Center for Health Services is Communities And Students Together for Learning-Enhanced Service (CASTLES). CASTLES was created to give Vanderbilt students the skills and knowledge necessary to be effective citizens in the communities where they will live after graduation. This year, two prototype CASTLES projects, “CASTLES for Child Health” and “CASTLES for Child Safety”, were piloted to respond to community needs. Through this service-learning program, students address the problems of health and safety for impoverished
In the program’s pilot year (2006-7), ten undergraduate and graduate students participated in a variety of training, including community service and ethics; health care access and delivery; and facilitating focus groups. CASTLES students then applied the skills and knowledge they acquired to a community context. For instance, this approach led to three student-led focus groups that took place in the community and one after-school cooking/nutrition class.
Through CASTLES, Federal Work Study (FWS) students are employed as long-term participants to improve child health and safety through service in impoverished communities. CASTLES program activities have three components. CASTLES students volunteer in the community and build community relationships, receive training from community- and university-based specialists, and review the scientific literature on immunizations, obesity, and car seats and booster seats. These three components will lead to the establishment of programs in the community to improve child safety and health.
Students will spend up to four years building relationships in
The initial educational goal for the CASTLES student participants is to understand the scientific literature regarding interventions to improve child health and safety. There are large amounts of scientific literature assessing vaccination, nutrition, and injury prevention programs and strategies. CASTLES students have begun their knowledge foundation by reviewing this work and meeting with VCH faculty. Student participants will work with VCH faculty to understand complex community problems and identify potential solutions. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty on research projects, receive guidance as they research an area of interest, meet experts on the topic, and then apply all these things in the community.