Summit High students work to eradicate diseases
February 17, 2008
FARMER’S KORNER ” As research for their competition project on vaccines took shape, a few Summit High School International Club students put the phrase “act locally, think globally” into action.
This week, as they continue to get ready for the upcoming World Affairs Challenge at the University of Denver, they are sponsoring a Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis vaccine clinic. And while they work to raise awareness about the need to prevent these diseases in the community, their next step will be to impact immunizations across the world. Proceeds will go to UNICEF’s International Immunization Program, and for every dollar donated, two children can be vaccinated, said the students.
“Our goal is to educate the public about the necessity of this vaccine and implement a program to help eradicate these diseases,” wrote the International Club students who come from all high school grades and a variety of backgrounds in a letter sent home to parents.
From their research, the students discovered that about 250,000 children die from these diseases each year. Also, while most people in the United States get the vaccine as children, many don’t realize a booster is recommended every 10 years, they said.
The vaccine is required for students in sixth and 10th grades. In January 2007, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials approved three additional vaccine requirements for children in childcare and school settings which included this one. And according to a press release by the department, a priority of Gov. Bill Ritter’s is to increase the rate of childhood immunizations.
However, the Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis vaccine is not just for children above age 11. It is recommended for adults and in fact, the greatest increase in Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has been seen in adolescents and adults, the health department reported.
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“We want our community to be safer and then raise money … so other kids around the world can get vaccinated,” said Maria Carrion-Kozak, SHS Spanish teacher who sponsors the International Club that is helping students gain global perspective.
Member Maria Alarcon, a junior at the high school, said, “We live in Summit County and we don’t see anything. … You do this research and you find out how the world is.”
One of the club’s co-presidents, Chris Gabrels, also a junior, added, “We really care about the world.”
Part of what he loves about the club is the diversity, he continued, adding that students from Ecuador, Poland, Venezuela and Mexico participate.
“This is probably the most diverse group of kids at the school,” said the club’s vice president, Lizzy Shay, junior. And through the project, they’ve all connected and created friendships, she added. “It’s really cool that we’ve come together as a club and we’re really doing something to have an impact.”
This will be the first year Summit High students compete in the World Affairs Challenge, and by participating they will receive a partial scholarship to the University of Denver if they are accepted.
For the event that will be March 1, they put together a presentation they’ve worked on throughout the past few months that includes a skit, video and debate of vaccination pros and cons.
The International Club developed out of the Spanish Club when Carrion-Kozak took it on last school year. She wanted to broaden the club to make it more global and open the door to a variety of students, instead of focusing on Spanish culture. This year it has continued to evolve and after the students get back from the upcoming competition, their plan is to write a mission statement.
The International Club of Summit High School and Summit County Public Health are sponsoring a Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis vaccination clinic in room 1403 at Summit High School from 2-6 p.m. Wednesday. This booster that protects against Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis costs $15 and the club will donate proceeds to UNICEF’s International Immunization Program. Donations will be accepted at the event that is open to anyone 11 years or older. This vaccination is required for students in sixth and 10th grades.