Hundreds of individuals made their way to the Valley Dream Center on April 21st, where they received access to free health and dental care, during the “Healthy Neighbor’s Day” event.

A group of students in the CHHS Honors Program in Collaborative Leadership worked with the Valley Dream Center to put on the one-day community event, meant to bring the neighboring community together, while also providing free, beneficial services.

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Earlier in the semester, the students conducted a survey of residents in the southeast Fresno and asked them about aspects that affected their community the most. They found that a lack of dental care and the rising rates of alcoholism and diabetes were most problematic. To provide solutions, the students partnered with the Valley Dream Center and reached out to organizations that specialize in dental care, addiction recovery, and diabetes prevention and healthy living, to attend the “Healthy Neighbor’s Day” event.

Last year, the Valley Dream Center held a similar event, which brought out approximately 300 individuals or “neighbors” (as the Valley Dream Center calls them). The Honors Program students hoped they could provide more services to even more neighbors through their outreach efforts.

“We all feel extremely blessed to get to work with the Valley Dream Center, as their organization is extraordinary and doing so much good in their neighborhood,” said Katelyn Hobbs, a member of the Honors Program and a Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies Major. “All of our group members have a background in health, so doing another day of free health care, expanding it, and making it a sustainable, annual event was appealing to the group.”

At least 14 different organizations participated in the event, including Christian Medical and Dental Association, the Pregnancy Care Center, Omni Medical Group, and Saint Agnes Medical Center, among others.

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“Participants received not only free health and dental screenings, but care from a variety of medical professionals who graciously volunteered their time for this event,” Hobbs said. “There was also information on different services the Valley Dream Center offers in terms of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Part of our project also included childcare for children under six years and child programs for older children that focus on dental hygiene, healthy eating, and other tips for a healthy lifestyle.”

In all, the honors students and Valley Dream Center hoped to provide services to 400 community members.

In addition to the community organizations, Fresno State’s Community Health Mobile Unit was also on hand to provide free health services, like blood pressure screenings, flu shots, and nutrition and dietary information.

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The entire project was built upon a strong foundation of interprofessional collaboration. The group’s collaboration with the Valley Dream Center to host the event gave students the opportunity to work on their collaborative and interprofessional skills – both with the community organizations, but also within their own group.

“We all come from different educational backgrounds and each field has a different definition for similar or the same terms,” Hobbs said. “We had to push past our assumptions of what we believed our group members were doing in their particular field in order to learn what they really do and what they could contribute. We are also learning how we each have a unique set of skills to contribute to the group, including skills that aren’t necessarily related to our major.”

Having the opportunity to collaborate gave students the confidence to work on more projects with different groups and organizations. The Honor’s Program taught students the trust to move forward as a group, rather than as individuals, said Hobbs.

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“There are some very clear benefits to interprofessional collaboration. We have each learned that no one person can complete a project close to the magnitude of ours without working with others,” Hobbs said. “Our project included different aspects of so many fields that we are learning our dependency on each other to get the project done. I believe we are all much more comfortable with the idea of interprofessional collaboration now and will all apply this in our future careers. “

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L to R: Salmeron, Savage, Armstrong; Valley Dream Center Volunteer Coordinator, Arturo Correa, CHHS Dean, Dr. Jody Hironaka-Juteau; Kepner, Hobbs, Sepulveda. 

Students who participated in the Healthy Neighbor’s Day project included: Katelyn Hobbs (Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies), Rosa Salmeron (Social Work,) Shelby Miller (Kinesiology), Audrey Savage (Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies), Brandon Sepulveda (Business with a minor in Public Health) and Andrea Kepner (Nursing).

“It is a lot of hard work, plain and simple,” Hobbs said of the Honors Program. “But the lessons we have learned from each other, the experiences we’ve gathered, and the improvement in competency of our skill sets are all worth the hard work and the time. Because of this experience, we will be more comfortable in this type of setting and group work in our future.”

-Written by CHHS Communications Student Assistant, Rebeca Flores.