Bright Works spotlights community fitness

By Quinlan Morrow, Roseburg High School Class of 2015

The 2014-15 AHECSW interns are seen in a light moment.

The 2014-15 AHECSW interns are seen in a light moment.

With the goal of improving health in rural regions like Douglas County, the Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon provides opportunities to students in high school who share that ambition. Local students Benjamyn Seamans, Synthany Woodley, Christine Pons and Quinlan Morrow from AHEC’s Bright Works Oregon Internship have taken an active role in bringing about positive change for Douglas County.

Members of the Mercy Institute of Rehabilitation work with Lookingglass Elementary students.

A  Mercy Institute of Rehabilitation staff member guides Lookingglass Elementary students through an exercise.

Focusing on youth, the project developed by the four interns took them to Lookingglass and Fir Grove Elementary School. For eight weeks starting in February, the third- and fourth-graders at Lookingglass and the fourth graders at Fir Grove were running, hopping, crab walking, rolling, and eating to better health. Every Wednesday, Benjamyn and Synthany at Lookingglass Elementary and Quinlan and Christine at Fir Grove taught lessons and facilitated activities to get the students active. With the aid of community presenters, the students learned about nutrition, different kinds of exercises, lifelong fitness and safety while being active. Mercy’s Healthy Kids Outreach, City of Roseburg Fire, Lookingglass Fire Department, Douglas County Fire District No. 2, Bike Walk Roseburg, Mercy Institute of Rehabilitation, Umpqua Community Veg Education Group, and South River Community Health Center partnered with the interns to plan presentations and activities. Throughout the eight weeks, third- and fourth-graders ate kale for the first time, learned how to put together fire hoses in a relay race, did the inch worm across the gym, were shocked by the mound of sugar put in sodas, learned to walk—not run—across streets, and challenged each other to a jumping jack competition.

Members of the Lookingglass Rural Fire District work with Lookingglass Elementary School students.

Lookingglass Elementary students explore equipment from the Lookingglass Rural Fire District.

Outside of the lessons, students filled out activity logs with the goal of logging 82 miles, the distance to the University of Oregon’s Autzen stadium. Fifteen students met the goal and 50 participated with a total of 3,399 miles. The eight-week program meant more to the students than the prizes they received for logging their exercise. Lookingglass student Hailey said that her “favorite part of everything was you guys [Benjamyn and Synthany] being here.” More than the physical activity, it is important for young students to know that there are people in the community that are willing to invest in them. Fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Morrow at Fir Grove Elementary School said, “We were very excited to be a part of this unique blend of health and fitness led by two enthusiastic and confident high school seniors: our fourth grade students could hardly wait to see what Christine and Quinlan had planned for each session.”

Fir Grove Elementary students receive visitors from Roseburg Fire Department and Douglas County Fire District No. 2.

Fir Grove Elementary students receive visitors from the Roseburg Fire Department and Douglas County Fire District No. 2.

The four AHEC interns represent three high schools: Benjamyn attends Umpqua Valley Christian School and hopes to become a surgeon, Synthany goes to Glendale High School with a goal to go into veterinary science or neonatology, and Christine and Quinlan attend Roseburg High School. They plan to become a physician and pediatric surgeon, respectively. The interns have had the opportunity to work at up to four local healthcare sites for eight to 10 weeks. This year, the high school students have interned at Dr. Alanson Randol’s dental practice, Mercy Institute of Rehabilitation, Fire District No. 2, the Shaw Heart Center, Mercy Imaging, Umpqua Community Health Center, Mercy’s Emergency Department, the Community Cancer Center, Roseburg Foot and Ankle Specialists and Countryside Veterinary Service. The interns ended their year with a community presentation on their experiences on May 28 at the Winston Community Center.

For more information about AHECSW and additional program opportunities, go to