Four years ago, the Nova Southeastern University of Southwest Florida Physician Assistant Class of 2012 recognized a need to improve the lives of members of the local, national, and international communities. To achieve this, the students reached out to the residents of Immokalee, Florida.
Immokalee is an underserved, neighboring area of Fort Myers, Florida. Immokalee is vastly an immigrant and migrant-worker region. According to the 2010 government census, with a population over 24,000, approximately 95% of residents are black and Hispanic/Latino, particularly Mexican and Haitian. The median household income as of 2010 was $23, 248, which is nearly half of the average Florida income of $45, 040. Approximately 35% of families in Immokalee are well below the poverty line. Due to living situations and lifestyles, many of the residents are at risk of developing major illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.
The physician assistant career was developed in hopes of filling the health care provider shortage in these poverty-stricken and rural areas. As future PAs, we recognize that it is our duty to educate and care for those who may lack the resources and knowledge to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
Thus, in 2010, the students took an initiative to provide work glasses to protect migrant workers at risk of eye diseases and infections, such as those caused by corneal abrasions. Project S.E.E.D.-“Serving Everyone, Embracing Diversity,” was started with the idea of giving back by whatever means possible, and it has grown to a community health fair with over 300 participants and 65 volunteers including physician assistant students, professors, and nursing students.
Over the past three years, the preceding physician assistant classes have expanded the health fair to include gloves and protective glasses donations, blood pressure and glucose testing, a nutrition booth, mammogram bus, and children’s activities. Last year, the class of 2015 expanded the health fair by working to establish connections in the local community and collaborate with the Collier County Health Department. As such, the 3rd Annual Health Fair, included “Dental Hygiene,” “Mosquito Awareness” and “HIV/Syphilis Screenings.” Without a single car dealership in sight, bike donations have become an important part of our health fair as they are the primary means of transportation for many of the residents of Immokalee.
This year the class of 2016 we be bringing a new exercise table to the health fair, where we will be giving away 30 bikes and pedometers while educating about the importance of exercise! We have also started a clothing drive and the Health Department has been generous and is now including gonorrhea and chlamydia testing.
Change starts with a S.E.E.D! Project SEED is an amazing event that helps so many people who are living in the underserved area of Immokalee. Each year we hope to help more and more individuals and make a difference in their lives.
Change begins with a SEED!
What is the Project S.E.E.D.?
“Serving Everyone, Embracing Diversity” is a medical project established by NSU SWFL to impact the lives of the local, national and international community in an economical, practical manner.
What are we doing?