“The interior joy we feel when we have done a good deed, when we feel we have been needed somewhere and have lent a helping hand, is the nourishment the soul requires.” —Albert Schweitzer
Founded in the Fall of 2015, the Alabama Fellows Program is one of thirteen currently active Schweitzer program sites across the U. S. dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs. Alabama Schweitzer Fellows are students competitively chosen from graduate and professional degree programs in universities throughout the state. They come from a variety of academic disciplines and as Schweitzer Fellows, they work tirelessly to address existing health disparities in their communities.
Since 2015, 84 Schweitzer Fellows have provided over 18,000 hours of service to Alabama’s most vulnerable communities. Partnering with over 67 community-based organizations in 10 Alabama counties, these Fellows have addressed a wide variety of unmet health needs by creating and carrying out yearlong projects with direct service at their core. Fellows seek to address all areas of health- defined as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being” (World Health Organization)- including the social determinants of health.
- nutrition education and cooking classes for kids and their parents
- hand hygiene and physical activity for young adults with developmental disabilities
- emergency preparedness for K-12 teachers to use AED/CPR for cardiac arrests
- medication adherence programs
- walking groups to address obesity
- vaccination service for under-insured at risk of preventable diseases
- HIV/STI testing using a mobile testing unit to overcome transportation/geographic barriers
- health coaching for individuals with diabetes and/or hypertension
- support group for caregivers of children with neuromuscular disabilities
- bibliotherapy group to improve coping skills of youth in alternative school setting
- meditation and yoga groups targeting youth in public housing communities
- patient navigation to increase retention of pediatric patients needing follow-up mental health services
- drug resistance education aimed at young adult women who are at risk of initiating opiate and other substance abuse
- mentorship for high school students who are underrepresented in health-related fields
- referrals to early-intervention programs for children with developmental delays
- college and career coaching for students and parents in under-resourced communities
- financial literacy for low-income families
For a complete listing of past and present Fellows’ service projects please see Fellows and Projects. At the end of the initial Fellowship year, Fellows carry their commitment to meeting the health needs of underserved people forward as members of the national and international Schweitzer Fellows for Life alumni network, now more than 4,000 strong. The ASF of Alabama program is funded entirely by charitable donations and grants from our generous sponsors. Your gift will make a difference in the lives of those most in need in our communities.