High Schoolers Design Tech Solutions in Young Innovators Healthcare Fellowship

On June 17th, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) launched its first-ever summer fellowship for high school students, the Young Innovators Healthcare Fellowship, funded through grants from the Grable Foundation and the Benedum Foundation. In a collaborative and creative environment, youth across the Pittsburgh region will explore healthcare careers and design technology solutions for current healthcare problems, while gaining entrepreneurial skills and engaging with young professional mentors.

The Fellowship is a spin-off of Liftoff PGH 2020, JHF's health innovation initiative that convened leaders across Pittsburgh's technology, health, education, and entrepreneurship sectors for our region's first virtual healthcare innovation summit. The Fellowship is virtual and will run for eight weeks, through August 5th.

The 24 fellows represent 9th-12th grades, attending Pine Richland High School, South Fayette High School, North Allegheny High School, Winchester Thurston School, Peters Township High School, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, River Hill High School, Fox Chapel Area High School, and a homeschool program. The fellows have interests in public health, biotech/robotics, medicine, healthcare access and equity, rural and low-income communities, computer science in health, mental health, neuroscience, and entrepreneurship.

During the kick-off session, Fellows met the JHF staff, participated in a team-building activity, and learned about community mapping, a skill they will use in their projects to design a solution for a current healthcare problem.

On June 24, the Defining Health and Healthcare session, Tiffany Taulton, MSPPM, Director of Community Initiatives at Hazelwood Initiative spoke about community health and the impact of social determinants of health. She emphasized the importance of tailoring resources to meet community needs and uplifting community voices. Jim Withers, MD, FACP, Founder and Medical Director of Operation Safety Net, spoke about his journey into the field of street medicine and provided insight from how he had to rethink approaches to traditional healthcare for the individuals most left out of it. Carol Frazer, LPC, Practice Transformation Specialist for the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, engaged the youth in a discussion on identifying challenges in healthcare.

In the coming weeks, fellows will explore topics including design, mentoring, health innovation, and careers in health and technology, while working in small groups to design their own solutions to today's healthcare problems. For the finale on August 5th, fellows will present their projects in a virtual pitch session.

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