Future of public health: Campers explore advocacy, nutrition and e-cigarette research

Columbus students’ Cunz Hall visit part of Columbus Public Health collaboration

Kristen Mitchell
Ahmad El Hellani does a demonstration for campers.

Assistant Professor Ahmad El Hellani shares a demonstration about his e-cigarette research with campers.

From learning how be a community advocate to unpacking the social determinants of health, young scholars explored what it means to be a public health practitioner as part of Columbus Public Health’s Camp Public Health.

Campers age 10 to 14 visited the College of Public Health on Wednesday as part of the program’s Ohio State Day. After the students warmed up their muscles stretching with Brutus, Assistant Professor Ahmad El Hellani shared a demonstration about his e-cigarette research. Then the students played a game focused on the challenges associated with healthy food and beverage choices and brainstormed ideas to reduce barriers to voting. 

Sydney Wittenberg, a fifth-year student in the combined BSPH/MPH program who serves as the Camp Public Health intern, said it was rewarding to see the students uncover the public health topics that sparked their interest throughout the week-long camp.

“There’s so many opportunities for them to get involved with their community and get involved on a larger scale. I think it’s really good to let them have this experience and start career building at an early age,” she said. 

Wittenberg helped coordinate the camp as part of her applied practice experience. She connected with different departments in Columbus and across Ohio State to see what types of activities campers could be involved with throughout the week. After leaving Cunz Hall, the students toured Ohio State’s Waterman Farm and learned about zero waste efforts at Ohio Stadium.

Teresa Long, CPH special advisor of community engagement and partnership, said the camp is the earliest form of workforce development and a great opportunity to engage with young people.

“This is the time where we would hope young people are starting to think, ‘What would be of interest to me?’ I hope they think about public health and how they can make a big difference in the world,” she said.


About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond. The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy. It is ranked 29th among all colleges and programs of public health in the nation, and first in Ohio, by U.S. News and World Report. Its specialty programs are also considered among the best in the country. The MHA program is ranked 8th, the biostatistics specialty is ranked 22nd, the epidemiology specialty is ranked 25th and the health policy and management specialty is ranked 17th.