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Students Work Together for a Healthy Chicago

Five Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine students were selected to join the Chicago Department of Public Health's (CDPH) Students for a Healthy Chicago committee. These students will take part in creating a community health project with 37 other graduate students studying law, medicine, and journalism from Northwestern University, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University, and John Marshall Law School.

“Public health is key to improving American healthcare and needs to be a joint effort on the part of many people from different disciplines,” said Byron Ho, a first-year medical student. “I think this is a great opportunity to improve health while working with people outside of medicine.”

During the one-year commitment, members of the committee will participate in policy development and community projects, and share feedback on program development with the CDPH. Last year, the group was instrumental in developing PlayStreets, a program that gives children and adults supervised spaces to enjoy outdoor activities such as sports, games, and dancing.

“I was excited to learn I was accepted to a position on this committee,” said Jasmine Rassiwala, a third-year medical student. “When I met the rest of the team, I was thrilled to see my fellow peers so passionate about making a change in our beautiful city. I was instantly inspired.”

Rassiwala, one of five Feinberg students on the committee, applied to the program because it offered her the opportunity to expand her interest in public health beyond the classroom.

“The CDPH Students for a Healthy Chicago committee encourages students to build public health policy within a real-life framework,” she said. “In medical school, we learn about barriers to adequate healthcare and what solutions are needed, but this committee offers the unique experience to be a part of that change and learn about the obstacles to developing health policies.”

Started in 2011, Healthy Chicago initiated projects to improve the health of Chicago through 12 areas, including tobacco use, obesity prevention, HIV prevention, adolescent health, access to care, and violence prevention

“By offering healthier school lunches to making bars smoke-free to providing flu vaccines, the city of Chicago is making its citizens healthier,” said Ashima Singal, a third-year medical student. “The committee offers me an opportunity to make an impact on my community by picking a project that serves the folks of Streeterville.”

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