Leaders in Learning: Lend a Helping Hand

Subjects: Civics, History
Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12
Source: Cable in the Classroom

Born and raised in a remote region of Alabama known as the "Black Belt," RaSheda Workman has developed a solid reputation as a passionate advocate for rural and underserved communities. Equipped with a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in health studies, Workman has used her academic training to improve health care, develop leadership skills in youth and educate the public about disparate conditions in underserved communities throughout Alabama.

In 2007, Workman created "Eyes Wide Open" as an avenue for middle and high school students to become engaged as change agents for the community. Integrating health policy and demographic studies with the core curriculum, Workman has helped students gain insight on the underlying causes of poverty and measures that can be used to improve quality of life. Students in the program study local demographic trends associated with chronic health conditions, economic indices and education attainment levels to design advocacy campaigns and outline volunteer activities that fulfill unmet needs in the community.

To date, students have organized a new campus community service organization to provide resources to local nursing home facilities and assist local nonprofits. They also have conceptualized a framework to implement a student-driven institute that focuses on addressing poverty in the community.

"The conditions of poverty will only improve when the people most affected are equipped with the necessary tools to make change. Students now are more concerned about improving conditions and have undertaken several projects to promote change within their communities."

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