Making sure the youth of our communities are guided throughout their development is a major focus of the hospital. We offer three major mentoring programs that focus on education, literacy and career preparation.
Summer Youth Program & Promotion of Literacy
The Summer Youth Mentorship and Promotion of Literacy (SYMPL) program provides high school students the opportunity to work closely with a physician in our pediatric health facility in Uptown to learn about careers in medicine, while becoming involved in community service and literacy promotion.
This three-consecutive-summer scholarship program matches academically accomplished students with a physician who acts as a mentor, teaching them about medicine, taking them on rounds and exposing them to different parts of the hospital. In turn, the students act as mentors for patients in the waiting room by reading to them and promoting literacy. Students are encouraged to be creative and to get involved in the clinic's other community initiatives. Nearly all students involved in the SYMPL program have gone on to matriculate and graduate from college.
To introduce Chicago's fastest growing population to promising healthcare positions, we offer a six-week summer internship to local Latino high school students. It is a highly competitive program. Students, ages 17 to 19, are chosen from over 40 underserved Chicago public high schools and must be bilingual.
Once selected, students can observe surgeries, help medical imaging staff examine x-rays and observe a day in the life of our emergency department. Students hear presentations from the hospital's nationally renowned pediatric care specialists from a broad range of medical disciplines.
Thanks to funding by JPMorgan Chase, Lurie Children's has been able to expand the program and provide each student with a $1000 stipend to participate. The program now has 3,600 alumni who work in hospitals around the country.
Other "CHASE Your Dreams" initiatives allow high school students to earn school credit while working at the hospital, address the need for Certified Nursing Assistants and Support Service Technicians, partner with the City of Chicago's "One Summer Chicago" youth employment program, enable hospital staff to attend school "Career Days" and provide six-week paid internships at the hospital for patients with chronic conditions.
Research has shown that children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are more likely to learn to read on schedule for their age group. Lurie Children's works to promote early childhood literacy through its Catch the Reading Bug program, and community partnerships with Reach Out & Read (ROR) and the Chicago Public Library.
Pediatricians, pediatric residents and nurses at the hospital's continuity program advise parents about the importance of reading aloud and give books to children at pediatric check-ups from 6 months to 5 years of age, with a special focus on children growing up in poverty. By building on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers, ROR helps families and communities encourage early literacy skills so children enter school prepared for success in reading.
In addition, a health literacy ambassador program has been initiated to assist parents/caretakers of children treated at the hospital to enhance compliance and patient safety to optimize health outcomes.