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To engage middle school students across the state in community-based participatory research, the Health Sciences and Technology Academy at WVU is expanding its reach. HSTA currently serves 27 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. (WVU Photo/Davidson Chan)

The Health Sciences & Technology Academy at West Virginia University is expanding its reach to engage middle school students across the state in community-based participatory research.
Implemented through WVU Health Sciences, HSTA has traditionally supported high school students in rural, underserved and economically disadvantaged communities throughout West Virginia, and connects them to the resources and opportunities needed to succeed in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine or STEM+M-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
With a new $1.3 million Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, HSTA will implement an outreach project over the next five years developed to train HSTA students to engage middle school students — HSTA TEAMS for Community Health: Teaching Educators and Adolescents Mentoring and Science to Improve Community Health.
“HSTA TEAMS will benefit communities across the state by bringing to light health issues and educating middle school students and the community on those issues,” Cathy Morton, HSTA director, said.
HSTA TEAMS builds on the program’s team-based mentoring structure to facilitate the development and execution of community-based participatory research and citizen science projects. Through an extensive network of hundreds of mentors — teachers, community members, higher education faculty and staff and HSTA participants themselves — middle school students will have the opportunity to engage in STEM+M activities that reflect the needs of their communities.
The project was piloted during the annual research summer camp held on the WVU campus, allowing HSTA participants to begin implementing the outreach portion of the program in their counties during the school year this fall. HSTA currently serves 27 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
“HSTA, a SEPA grantee since 1997, gives a voice to those who are so often unheard, and it brings awareness to community health issues and allows for education and solutions,” Morton said. “Empowered HSTA students are the bridge for researchers to reach communities in a meaningful way.”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25GM146285. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jessica Wilmoth
Senior Communications Specialist
University Relations — Health Sciences
304-293-9528; jessica.wilmoth@hsc.wvu.edu

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