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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M, Lurie Children’s Hospital awarded grant to aid Chicago teens

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Photo by Karis Olson

The Texas A&M College of Nursing on Riverside Parkway.

Texas A&M and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago received a $7.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help adolescent health.

A&M’s School of Nursing and Public Health is working together with the nationally-ranked hospital to help young teens overcome violence, substance abuse, unplanned pregnancies, poor mental health and unhealthy relationships. The project is called Partnerships and Opportunities for Adolescent Health Preparation, Support and Services, or POPPS. 

The Associate Dean for Research of A&M’s School of Nursing, Kelly Wilson, Ph.D., serves as a co-principal investigator for the project. 

Wilson said the project focuses on aiding three areas for youth: school-based curriculums for teaching adolescent health, living arrangements for homeless youth and clinics for children. The program opens in January 2024, Wilson said.

“We are investing in the public health nursing and workforce in training them on evidence-based intervention[s] that impact [youth] health decisions,” Wilson said.

Whitney Garney, Ph.D., associate professor in health education, is also a co-principal investigator for POPPS. By broadening its geographical reach, Garney said A&M shares its expertise and knowledge with the Lurie Children’s Hospital to improve issues like adolescent health.

“This is an important project because it really illustrates [A&M’s] ability to work across the country,” Garney said. “What we do at [A&M] has implications for a lot of other communities and states in the country, so this is a great example of how we are … expanding our national breath.”

Although the POPPS project is not taking place in the Bryan-College Station area, Wilson said people at A&M contribute to the design of this program by assessing it.

“The role specifically that A&M will be playing with the POPPS project is as an evaluator, so taking on the research [and] looking at the effectiveness of the community-based model,” Wilson said. “We will also be leading the development of a modeler framework that hopefully other health systems could pick up.” 

When applying for the grant, Garney said children are still learning and not fully educated in the drawbacks of certain actions, like drinking alcohol and having sexual relations.

“Our application establishes the significance of the problem, that adolescents are in a developmental stage of life,” Garney said. “And with that comes various risk factors for health behaviors — risky sexual practices, substance abuse and potential of mental health issues.” 

Dawn Ravine, manager of sexuality education at the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital, helps deliver youth sexual education. 

Ravine said the project allows the people in Chicago to be responsive to communities that do not have enough resources in the school districts. 

“This was an opportunity for us to write directly from our experience in the places where there is a challenge in the city of Chicago,” Ravine said. “The impact will be that young people will have the kinds of education and connections to reproductive health services.”

Ravine said the cooperation that her hospital has with A&M will foster mutual learning and growth within their programs.  

“That collaborative element will not only elevate the services within this POPPS program but all adolescent health services,” Ravine said. “I am really excited about the national partnership and expertise of A&M.” 

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