Students Dig Into
Medical students join with Enos Park neighbors
to make environmental improvements
Written by Rebecca Budde • Photography by Jason Johnson
"A commitment to service is one thing we look at when we meet students who want to come here. They have it in their DNA before they get here," says Erik Constance, MD, associate dean of students. To help the students use that DNA, the School joined forces with the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association (EPNIA) for an all-student community service event: the inaugural Student Day of Service.
May 2 turned out to be a beautiful day to spruce up the Enos Park neighborhood. "We’ve never had anything where we’ve had the entire Springfield student body pulling together to accomplish something like this," Dr. Constance says. Approximately 180 students and 20 members from EPNIA volunteered their time to the efforts.
Excused from classes for the day, students worked in teams with a leader from EPNIA on various projects. From early morning until late afternoon, they tackled assorted landscaping and infrastructure improvements, including construction of community gardens, cleaning of alleyways and organization of an architectural salvage shop. "This was a good reminder of how environment can affect health," Drew Schmucker, MSIV, says. "The Day of Service gives students an opportunity to help identify needs in a community and interact with other community leaders to make positive changes."
Thirty volunteers began the installation of a brick footpath through a sculpture garden. "When we started, it was an open lot with piles of uneven dirt," Jaleen Sims, MSIII, says. "It seemed like only a dream to accomplish what Enos Park had envisioned, but once we got started, everyone worked as a team and it became more apparent that the dream would become a reality. As others finished their projects during the day, they came to help us out."
Faculty and students have discussed an all-student community service event of this nature for many years, according to Dr. Constance. Rik Austin, MSIV, chair of the student assembly, worked with Dr. Constance and David Steward, MD, MPH, associate dean of community health and service, to make the idea a reality. "A safe, clean, livable neighborhood is important to the health of people," Dr. Steward says. "In neighborhoods that are blighted and are not cleaned up regularly, the stress level goes up and people living there are less healthy because of that. Our ability to participate in helping the neighborhood is a big contribution."
Sims was one of the students who was instrumental in the shaping and execution of the Day of Service. Kate Swaggerty, MSII, and Schmucker rounded out the efforts on behalf of the student community health committee, and the student assembly members helped to unite the students. SIU faculty and staff also provided energy to make the day a success. Jim Daniels, MD, professor of family and community medicine and director of SIU Primary Care Sports Medicine in Quincy, provided and cooked a hearty lunch for the entire volunteer crew.
Students are enthusiastic for the continuation of the Student Day of Service. "It’s definitely something we want to make a yearly event," Dr. Constance says. "We truly believe students need this experience to remind them that they are going to be valuable members of communities not just because they’re going to be physicians in the community, but also because they’re involved in activities in the communities and feel strongly about making the place they live a better place."
Sims says she’s ready to get back to the drawing board to work on the planning for next year’s event. "This experience was a way for us to work as a team, as we do in health care, doing something we all have instilled in our hearts." By the day’s end, students were dirty and tired, but the Day of Service provided them a feeling of community and accomplishment toward the positive impact on the health of their neighbors.
Sadowski receives National Public Health Award
Daniel Sadowski, MD, received the 2014 Excellence in Public Health Award from the US Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee. The award was presented by Julie Chodacki, PsyD, commander, US Health Service, at the SIU Day of Service for Enos Park neighborhood in Springfield.
The award recognizes medical students who have demonstrated a commitment to public health and public health service. “Dan’s outreach work and today’s service day represent the goals of the US Public Health Service: health promotion, disease prevention, and the improvement of health conditions,” said Chodacki.
Dr. Sadowski’s community service activities include leading the SIU student effort with the Springfield Collaborative for Active Child Health, which works to address the problems of childhood overweight and obesity, and a student-run community health clinic for homeless and underserved residents. He also served as a mentor for an underprivileged elementary school.
Dr. Sadowski began a urology residency at SIU School of Medicine in July. He is the son of John and Victoria Sadowski of LaSalle, and is married to Kristie (Carlson) Sadowski. He is a graduate of LaSalle Peru Township High School (2004), Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology (2008),
and University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway, where he earned a Master of Public Health degree (2010).