Monday, April 12, 2010

A Visit from the Doctors...

At a visit to Project Coach this week, I had the pleasure of talking to two local doctors from the North End of Springfield. Dr. Hilda Rivera and Dr. Miguel Mujica are both in their third year studying internal medicine at the Brightwood Health Center, directly across the street from the heart of Project Coach. Last October, Dr. Mujica helped teach the Project Coach students about sexually transmitted infections and general first aid.

This spring, Rivera and Mujica are joining forces to talk about healthy eating. Dr. Rivera said mostly what the kids need is an "awareness" of the issues, linking healthy eating to preventing diseases such as diabetes. The North End of Springfield is what many in the food justice movement would call a "food desert," that is, there is a lack of healthy and affordable grocery stores in the area. Recently, a group of graduate students from MIT conducted a project mapping the food choices in the North End. Mapping corner stores, bakeries, farmer's markets, and other food sources in the area, the grad students focused on showing the lack of healthy food options in the city.

The map of their findings can be seen here:

In addition, Rivera and Mujica spoke about their partnership with Project Coach as a way of showing the students that they can reach for higher education, such as medical school. Rivera said that she hopes to show the coaches, "You can come from any socioeconomic class and become a doctor." Usually, Rivera and Mujica volunteer their time at a local elderly center; with a grin, both doctors commented on how there was much more energy, input, and different dynamic with the teens at Project Coach.

By Molly Ristuccia

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