About a dozen young people, ages 11 to 14, gathered inside of the Fred Hampton social room at Proviso East High School in Maywood July 23 to get a sense of what it’s like to study medicine. 

The young participants got real stethoscopes and learned about the human heart, skin, blood, digestion, disease and surgery techniques, among other things.

The first “Little Medical School” was free for participants and sponsored by Maywood Safe Summer, a youth summer activities program started by Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon. 

Maywood resident Eileen Olivier identified the program and thought it would be a good idea to lure it to Maywood.

Little Medical School is a national program that has a Chicago area branch. The program is designed to inspire “young minds by sharing our passion for learning, health and careers in medicine,” according to its website. 

“Through hands-on activities, role-play, and interactive demonstrations, children explore the exciting world of healthcare. All programs are written by experienced educators, board-certified physicians and trained healthcare professionals. Our classes are led by trained Little Medical School Instructors.” 

Olivier said she’s always looking for medical programs for her two sons. She contacted Shaun Willis, the president of Little Medical School-Chicago West, and he agreed to bring the program to East. 

“Trustee Brandon helped us secure a location and funding and Loyola Medicine funded the program, which allowed us to offer it for free to the students,” Olivier said.

“These students are so engaged and interested,” she said. “They come up with questions and are interested in science. We want to go into biochemistry and study medical science.” 

Barbara Cole, the founder of Maywood Youth Mentoring, helped facilitate and promote the two Little Medical School workshops, which were held July 16 and July 23. 

“We want to involve younger kids going forward,” Cole said. “The children here know so much that I was impressed with the questions that they asked. We want to continue this and hopefully engage even more Loyola support.” 

Cole said Loyola has agreed to cover the costs, which run about $110 per student. She hopes even more funding flows to the program in the future.

Jordyn Parker, 12, said his experience at Little Medical School was fun and that he met many new people. 

“My favorite thing that I saw under the microscope is probably the cobweb that we took from the wall, the leaf, and when we saw our fingers,” Parker said. “We’ve been learning about arteries and red and white blood cells.  I want to be a doctor for people who have [Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder].” 

Mary-Grace Murray, a second-year medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, outlined the students’ lessons.

“They’re looking at a bunch of different slides under the microscope, such as blood. They’ve learned the different components of blood, the red and white blood cells, plasma and platelets. And then we also looked at arteries and veins,” she said. 

“From there, they looked at the difference between the more muscular rigid arteries in the veins. Also we’ve been looking at cardiac and smooth muscles, the cardia of the stomach, small and large intestines, mainly of human samples. They learned all of these concepts in class last week and today they get to see it under the microscope.” 

After the second workshop finished, the students all received their ceremonial white coats — just like actual medical students.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com