Beyond Bars is a new program that aims to improve health education among underserved populations. Started by Rana Mehdizadeh and held at Woodfield Cottage, Beyond Bars aims to provide the support and resources underprivileged youth need to thrive later in live. However, the benefits are truly two-fold. In addition to educating arrested youth and providing them with the resources to make healthy choices, the program also aims to train future healthcare professionals to empathize with a patient’s past, note that it may be a contributing factor to their health, but ultimately be non-judgmental and look beyond it.
The truth is that many of the teens currently at Woodfield Cottage (as well as juvenile detention centers nationwide) come from low socioeconomic backgrounds and simply have not had the support, resources, and/or education needed to reach their full potential. These teens are generally very intelligent and interested in learning about their health and bettering themselves, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so. Some may have forgone schooling to work and provide a source of income for their families; others may not have even had a choice, and had been forced into illegal activity by a third party.
Beyond Bars aims to right this wrong by holding weekly discussion-based health education classes for the kids at Woodfield. Through these classes, we also hope to create a strong support system for them as they go through the long and stressful process of awaiting their court dates and sentencing. Though it is currently in its beginning stages, we hope to see Beyond Bars become a staple of New York Medical College, providing a well-rounded education for physicians years to come.