Groundwork Lawrence Partners with ProjectImpact to support youth employment and public health

Dana-Farber teams up with Lawrence youth in city-wide project to understand the health of their community

Lawrence High School and Northern Essex Community College to offer unique research experience to students

Lawrence, MA – Recognizing the importance of investing in youth to improve the health of communities, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Center for Community–Based Research has partnered with Lawrence High School and Northern Essex Community College to offer part-time summer jobs to 16 Lawrence students interested in pursuing a career in health and research. The students will assist the Dana-Farber study team with Project IMPACT, a program that is focused on changing how the citizens of Lawrence discuss health and health inequalities and addressing the issues in an effort to improve the health of all of Lawrence's citizens.

One of the goals of Project IMPACT is to understand how people who live in Lawrence currently view their health and the health of their community. Students from Lawrence High School and Northern Essex Community College will conduct door-to-door surveys in the neighborhoods of Lawrence to gather this information.

"This is a unique opportunity for students to learn about what public health research is all about, while at the same time, gathering invaluable data that will be useful for Lawrence," says K. “Vish” Viswanath, PhD, principal investigator for the project and associate professor at Dana-Farber and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Working in collaboration with the City of Lawrence’s Mayor’s Health Task Force, Dana-Farber staff will train the students on basic research skills, including how to administer the surveys. The students will work and travel in teams and go door-to-door from 9:00a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the month of August. An adult study team member will be on-call while the students are in the field to provide support.

"Project IMPACT is a great opportunity for Lawrence youth to gain knowledge of the health field and valuable skills in professionalism, communication, team building, and applied research," says Quin Gonell, a social studies teacher at Lawrence High School who is coordinating the high school recruitment effort. "There is no doubt that these students will benefit greatly from working within their own community, alongside college students from Northern Essex Community College and representatives from influential organizations such as the City of Lawrence Mayor's Health Task Force, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard School of Public Health.”

Ultimately, the researchers hope that this experience will serve as a pipeline for students who are interested in pursuing a career in public health.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. It provides adult cancer care with Brigham and Women’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and it provides pediatric care with Children’s Hospital Boston as Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. Dana-Farber is one of the largest recipients among independent hospitals of National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health grant funding.

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