Heleena Haberer with pediatric patient

Michael Bushnell

Over 400 charter school students from Northeast-based Scuola Vita Nuova (SVN) were guests at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences campus Thursday morning to take part in health screenings provided by KCU medical students through the university’s Score 1 for Health program.

SVN students walked to the KCU campus from their school on Garfield Avenue to take part in a variety of health assessments and screenings, all facilitated by College of Osteopathic Medicine students

Score1 for Health was founded by former Kansas City Chiefs Safety Deron Cherry over 30 years ago to raise awareness and stress the importance of pediatric health.

“It’s been a mission and a goal of mine to expand this program to be as big as it is today,” Cherry said as he interacted with students in a large screening room overlooking I-35. “I mean, you know, 31 years we’ve been doing it so it’s always good to come in and see these little kiddos get themselves screened for any kind of health issue right now.”

Heleena Haberer, a second year student from Branson, Mo., had her hands full with an incredibly curious SVN student who was really more interested in Haberer’s blood pressure cuff than she was being screened.

“Just the opportunity to get to work with kids and get a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a doctor and why this is so important, it’s just so life-giving and such a joyous experience,” Haberer said, asking the youngster, “Can you go aaaaaaaah? Can you lift up your tongue for me.”

KCU President Dr. Marc Hahn was thrilled to see so many students working on bettering young lives.

“I think this is amazing, I’m so proud of our faculty and students who are stepping in to make a difference with the community,” Hahn said as he looked out over a sea of children and KCU students. “Our mission is improving the well-being of the communities we serve. This is our community and this is our mission.”

UMKC dental students were on site assisting with oral health screenings and Avila University nursing students also assisted with vision, height and weight screenings.

Dr. Ray Newman, Chief Medical Officer for Score 1 for Health and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, outlined the importance of early screening and how it impacts childhood learning. 

“What we try to do in Score 1 is we try to identify any health needs that may not have been identified before and link them into care,” Newman said. “We always tell the medical students that they’re role-modeling for kids that may not have a medical person in their family and you never know when you might spark someone’s interest in a career in medicine.”

It was an all hands on deck experience for students and faculty at KCU in making the event a day-long field trip for the elementary school students. If the smiles on the faces of the SVN students were any indication, the event was an overwhelming success.