Oral Histories will Assist County in Developing Wellness Campus

As part of a service learning project, students are working with officials from the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (H&HS) on an oral history project that will help the H&HS as it develops the new Marin Health and Wellness Campus.

The project is a collaboration between H&HS Community Health and Prevention Services, Dominican’s service learning and women and gender studies programs and Listening for a Change, a non-profit organization that promotes understanding and acceptance of human diversity through education, oral history, and the arts.

Students from two women and gender studies courses are collecting oral histories of community members to understand people’s healthcare experiences and concerns, as well as their cultural differences, to ensure an inclusive and effective health center, said Julia van der Ryn, Dominican’s service learning director.

The project gives students an opportunity to take the theories they’ve learned in the classroom and put them into practice in ways that enrich the community, added Mairi Pileggi, director of Dominican’s women and gender studies program.

The oral histories are based on a set of questions that the students developed in conjunction with the Community Health and Prevention team, said Sparkie Spaeth, H&HS Community Health and Prevention Services manager.

 “Ultimately, we hope these oral histories will tell us more about the perception and experience of health issues for Marin community members, and how to engage these community members in health program planning,” said Spaeth. “The oral histories will also be used to develop media to create a welcoming environment at the new campus.”

The Marin Health and Wellness Campus will be located on Kerner at Bellam Boulevard in San Rafael. The six-building campus will provide a variety of health care, wellness, mental health, and advocacy services for men, women, and children. Full occupancy is expected next fall.

The Dominican students are conducting oral histories during this month’s Bi-National Health events, sponsored by H&HS.

In a related project, students from Dominican’s occupational therapy department are assisting H&HS with other Bi-National Health events, including health screenings. Students from the Department of Occupational Therapy, for example are presenting information on occupational therapy treatments.

For children, information is being offered on developmentally appropriate play activities and promoting sensory integration. For adults, information is being offered on preventing repetitive strain injury from overuse of computers. For older adults, information and screenings are being offered related to reducing the risk of falling.

Posted October 17, 2007