HOSA team raises awareness for Alzheimer’s


Two juniors at Olentangy High School recently raised $250 for Alzheimer’s research as part of a HOSA – Future Health Professionals project.

Joanna Chinnapatel and Sheryl Gerald are first-time competitors in HOSA, a club they say is designed to encourage students to research different parts of the medical field and take part in competitions using that information.

Chinnapatel said the team looked at different competitions and chose community awareness because they knew they “wanted to do a project that would have a meaningful impact.”

“When we decided to do community awareness as our event, we started by researching common diseases that affected the community around us,” Chinnapatel said. “Alzheimer’s disease popped up at every turn, and the statistics showed an over amount of people were affected by the disease. The issue we pinpointed was that even though the disease affected so many people, there was a big part of the population that lacked understanding about Alzheimer’s, which resulted in misconceptions and stigma. We realized that the only way to solve this issue was to spread awareness to our community.”

Gerald said they researched the disease as part of the project and even completed a “crash course” about the disease provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

“As the research phase of our project began, the statistics of this prevalent health disease spoke volumes,” Gerald said. “For example, approximately 60 million people have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease globally. Yet, despite this widespread impact of Alzheimer’s, there is often a lack of understanding, which has resulted in misconceptions and stigma. Simply knowing the disease exists is not enough. After similar findings, we determined that it was crucial to address this issue throughout our community.”

During the project, the team did interactive presentations to elementary school classrooms; conducted a virtual interview with a neurologist from Mount Carmel; created informational pamphlets, bookmarks and infographics to distribute in their schools; partnered with the Delaware County District Library to make their materials available to visitors; and created accounts on social media to raise awareness.

Additionally, the team partnered with a number of local organizations to host a tennis tournament with Olympic Indoor Tennis to raise money for Alzheimer’s research earlier this year and were able to raise $250 from the event.

Chinnapatel said the project has been a learning experience for the team, especially since this was their first year competing in HOSA.

“A few things that we have learned is how to communicate with busy adults and effectively organize work in order to achieve the best outcomes on projects,” Chinnapatel said. “After tying for first place at HOSA Regionals, Sheryl and I have a confidence that our hard work will pay off. Knowing that we are capable of going far has motivated us to do more.”

Gerald said they knew they would have to “be willing to adapt and use problem solving skills” since they didn’t know what to expect.

“Over the course of the past five months, Joanna and I have not only furthered our understanding of this disease, but we’ve also honed other useful life skills such as public speaking, effective communication, organization, and resilience,” Gerald said. “More specific to the disease, we’ve educated ourselves on the symptoms, risk factors, and advancements in treatments for Alzheimer’s. (Tying for first at HOSA regionals) in January, I felt increased confidence in our previous efforts.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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