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Medical student's program aims at healthy lifestyles for Pembroke youth
ECU medical students Bryan Howington and Tala Smith, along with fellow student Shaun Deese (not pictured) will work with young Pembroke residents this summer on healthy lifestyle choices. Photo by Cliff Hollis
(May 27, 2009)
An East Carolina University medical student will spend a few weeks this summer in his hometown hoping to make a lasting impact on the health of local youth.
Bryan Howington, who just completed his first year at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU, has organized a healthy lifestyle program in his hometown of Pembroke aimed at helping young people learn to eat better, exercise and make healthful lifestyle choices.
Howington, a recipient of a Brody Medical Scholarship, organized the program through his scholarship, which allows students to design a summer enrichment experience. Howington's project will be funded by a $2,500 grant from the Brody Foundation. The funds will be used to purchase exercise equipment, supplies and cover other expenses.
Working with Howington are Tala Smith and Shaun Deese – fellow medical students, Pembroke natives and Lumbee Indians. Howington and Deese hope to become pediatricians after medical school, and Smith favors family medicine. All three are graduates of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
"Being from Pembroke, we all recognize the health disparities and the need," Howington said. "And we all want to go back home and practice."
In the 2000 census, 38 percent of Robeson County's 123,339 people were Native American. Among Native Americans, heart disease is by far the leading killer in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Center for Health Statistics. Cancer is second and diabetes third. The death rate from diabetes is more than twice as high for Indians as for whites.
Howington's goals are to teach young people about health, nutrition and exercise through a two-week program. It's part of a larger summer program the Pembroke Housing Authority is holding at the Olivia Maynor Revels Community Building on Locklear Street. The program runs from June 15 to July 1.
"We're counting on it being a big part of what we're going to do this summer, and we think it's going to make a difference," said Lemark Harris, executive director of the Pembroke Housing Authority.
For more information about the summer program, contact the housing authority at 910-521-9711.
The Brody Medical Scholarship Program at ECU offers scholarships to incoming medical students who show high scholarship ability with evidence of leadership, service, moral character and a promise of distinction in medicine. The scholarship provides full tuition and fees and most living expenses for four years of medical school. Since the program began in 1983, more than 100 physicians have graduated. Most live and practice in North Carolina.