by Dr. Joe Sanchez, Director of Research & Development Science Engagement and STEM Programs, AstraZeneca
As we saw during this pandemic year, preventative health education can play a critical role in protecting the health and wellbeing of all citizens. Unfortunately, one of the lessons of COVID-19 is that access to healthcare and education is not equal for all students.
To help overcome that challenge, AstraZeneca and Discovery Education joined Learning Undefeated to build Generation Health: How Science Powers Us, an initiative connecting students grades 6-8 from all backgrounds to address critical topics in science and health at no cost. The program aims to spark a passion for preventative healthcare and show students the impact it has on their health by bridging their personal experiences to the science behind disease.
Generation Health introduces a wide range of therapy areas to students through lesson plans teaching them about Oncology, Respiratory diseases, and Cardiovascular, Renal, and Metabolic conditions. The content is supported with interactive activities and at-home experiments, as well as a virtual field trip (VFT) to AstraZeneca’s laboratories.
A new digital lesson, designed for middle school educators to incorporate into any learning environment, shows students the impacts of diabetes on human health and how they can help those who are diabetic. This innovative program empowers students to:
recognize both type one and type two diabetes
understand the impacts to various organs and systems
simulate medical roles to build health plans for diabetic patients
The new resources also work to build awareness in students that anyone can be diagnosed with diabetes but that it is something they can manage. Students learn from peers that living with diabetes can also mean living a full, limitless life through treatment and awareness.
Inclusive educational programs, like Generation Health, work to build healthy habits by promoting healthy lifestyle habits anyone can follow, fueling passions for helping others, and providing access to the knowledge that students everywhere need to be successful in medical science professions and in life.
The private sector can, and should continue to, step up for education to build a sustainably healthy society. AstraZeneca actively works internally and with partners, like Discovery Education and Learning Undefeated, to foster an inclusive society, from early childhood education through professional careers. Together through public-private partnerships, we can build a better society actively meeting the needs for all citizens, regardless of race and socioeconomic status. In doing so, we center diversity on a path to equity – intention and action is crucial, partnerships must act for communities, not just talk to them. The solutions to the health problems we face will be solved when everyone has the knowledge and skills required to participate and all parties are at the table.
The pandemic taught us that education occurs outside of sphere of the classroom; it happens when real-life experiences connect with the material taught. The opportunity is in front of us to take what we have learned to improve the state of education. One of the most important steps we can take as a society is to address the critical needs of young people through thoughtful collaboration between corporations and the education stakeholders. Together, AstraZeneca, Learning Undefeated, and Discovery Education are working hard on that important project.