Amanda Vogel, SPARC
SPARC (Students for a Positive Academic Partnership with the East Baltimore Community) is a student advocacy group that promotes a greater institutional commitment to investing in the health of East Baltimore.
When I moved to Baltimore, I was struck by the dramatic proverty and physical decay in the neighborhood surrounding one of the most prestigious Public Health Schools in the world. I wondered why the School couldn't use more of its extensive resources towards improving the health of the community. I helped created SPARC to encourage the School to do this. Through SPARC, students have been able to contribute to the work being done b y faculty and administrators to improve the relationship between the School and the community, and to invest more School resources in addressing community health. As a respresentative of students' perspectives, SPARC has contributed in unique ways which have had a meaningful impact for community engagement. I've been proud to be a part of this work at the School.
SPARC collaborates with faculty and administrators to create more opportunities for student engagement in the community. I'm particularly proud of SPARC's leadership in writing a successful proposal for a new Certificate in Community Based Public Health. It provides training int he content areas and methods needed for careers in community-based public health and offers a series of engaged learning opportunities in the community. The Certificate will be open for enrollment in 2009.
SPARC also engages in activies to raise awareness at the School about important public health concerns in East Baltimore, and the School's ability to respond. As part of this work, SPARC has sponsored a series of exciting events which have addressed: the public health impact of the East Baltimore redevelopment project, how the School can partner with the community to address structural poverty, and the right to housing and the issue of forced relocation.
For more information about SPARC, visit the SPARC website.