Jennifer Singh, associate professor in the School of History and Sociology, wrote the article "Addressing Atlanta’s health disparities through community service approaches" in The Saporta Report on March 1, 2020.
Singh, whose background includes education and training in public health as well as sociology, has designed a course in the Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) program that explores the sociological determinants of public health conditions in communities. Through a collaboration with the American Heart Association and the Grove Park Foundation, Singh's students taught hands-free CPR techniques to a variety of community organizations in Atlanta.
The most important take away from service learning is that students connect what they learn in the classroom with their community service experiences. To aid in this process, I challenge students to think and write critically about the social determinants of health that focus on fundamental or upstream causes of health disparities.
For example, living in poverty increases the risk of heart disease and death by sudden cardiac arrest. Based on data collected by Georgia Tech Atlanta’s Neighborhood Quality of Health and Life Project, 40 percent of the residents in Grove Park Neighborhood live below the poverty line, have a much lower household income than the median for the City of Atlanta, and only 9 percent have a college education. These drastic inequities affect the level and kind of resources people have access to, such as quality housing and medical care or, in the case of sudden cardiac arrest, knowledge on how to respond to it.