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UNC students and faculty spend spring break helping rural N.C. county

MSW students Sarah Gray, Catia (Ecaterina) Gittard, and Aimee Fairchild joined retired School of Social Work faculty member Joanne Caye on a spring break service trip to rural eastern North Carolina in March. The three students, all in the second year of our Winston-Salem Distance Education MSW Program, joined 18 other volunteers from UNC in Tyrell County.

The UNC service group has conducted service learning trips in Tyrrell County since 2009. Prior to going there, they spent three spring breaks in Biloxi, Miss., providing disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina.

“We chose Tyrrell County as an area for a service project because it is the most sparsely populated county in the state. Given the demographics of having a more aging population it has the vulnerable population that we wanted to help,” said UNC School of Nursing faculty member Sonda Oppewal, in the Scuppernong Reminder. “It seems to be one of the more vulnerable counties where we could help students explore a broad focus of health and how environment, social, education, and employment issues impact health.”
This year, the group’s agenda included:

  • Working with community partners in Tyrrell County to provide health education for local middle and high school students,
  • Painting paw prints on a one mile path around Columbia,
  • Working with the Columbia Medical Center to assist as needed,
  • Providing assistance at the Senior Center to help promote the health of older adults,
  • Assisting with painting and other projects at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office in Columbia, and
  • Conducting a door-to-door survey of residents for the Martin-Tyrrell-Washington 2014 Community Health Assessment.

The School of Social Work students interacted at a health fair with middle and high school students regarding bullying, healthy relationships and exercise; pulled 16 garbage bags full of weeds at Jockey’s Ridge State Park; cleaned the boardwalk trail in Columbia; and completed Community Health Assessment home visit interviews.