Collaboration with the outside world is the newest thing inside school buildings these days, and so the long-time relationship between Everett High School’s Allied Health Academy and the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCFL) in Chelsea has been a natural in this new environment.
This weekend, the leader of the Academy, teacher Susan Lomas, will bring some 200 or more Everett High School (EHS) students with her to the annual ALS Walk for Living at the LFCFL. Lomas has been bestowed the honor of being a chair for the walk this year, which takes place on Admiral’s Hill in Chelsea this Sunday, Sept. 27.
“I’m very honored to be chosen,” said Lomas, who noted that her grandmother died of ALS long before she was born. “Our kids love to do these things and like to feel they’re making a difference and doing something important. In my 25 years of teaching, teen-agers love to feel they are helping and making a difference. That’s why it’s a win-win for us. These are kids who are interested in working in a health career. I have kids who go to medical school, nursing and psychology. What a wonderful way to learn to work with people who have these kinds of challenging diseases. That’s what we try to teach over there – the interpersonal relationships…This year my students in particular were just blown away by Steve Saling and his story. One of our students went all summer to spend time with him.”
For many students, working with disabled people like those at the LFCFL helps to build compassion, Lomas said. She said that is a very important for anyone wanting to work in health care.
“It’s a really good lesson on compassion and how to be kind,” she said. “You treat every individual as if they are a member of your family. That’s true of every career in the health professions. You have to treat the patient like it’s your father or your mother.”
Lomas, 57, said she went to Northeastern University and combined a degree in nursing with community health education. She had a similar program that was vocationally based. However, about 12 or 13 years ago, the high school was re-designed and out of that came the new Allied Health Academy. One of the things they began doing right away was cultivating partnerships in the community.
They began working with the Whidden Hospital, some pre-schools, several nursing homes and the LFCFL.
“We started with the Leonard Florence when it opened,” said Lomas. “The students work with all the residents there. They worked with long-term patients and short-term patients. They also worked with the ALS and MS residents, which is how our involvement in the walk began.”
So far, fund-raising at EHS has been going very well.
Students have been raising money by making bracelets. They will also be doing a mass ice bucket challenge this Friday in front of the high school. There is also a fund-raising effort organized by the staff of the high school.
All of it points to one thing – a great community relationship.
“I feel it’s very, very important to have this relationship with LFCFL and to participate so much in the walk every year,” she said. “I would love to see these kinds of things increase ore in the high school. I believe they’re starting that with the STEM programs where kids can go out and get life experience with internships. They can get that real-life experience. What better than to get a real life experience?”
The LFCL features neurological specialty residences with cutting-edge assistive technology, allowing individuals with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) to receive skilled nursing care in a nurturing home environment. The 7th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living, a fundraiser to support these individuals as well as the innovative residences, will be held on Sunday, September 27, at 165 Captains Row on Admirals Hill at 10 a.m.
This year Billy Costa of KISS 108 will act as emcee and kick-off the two-mile walk. Media sponsors include the Independent Newspaper Group; major corporate sponsors include Biogen, M&T Bank, AHOA, Kayem and Clifton Larson. Immediately following the walk, there will be a BBQ hosted by Chili’s, doughnuts provided by Dunkin Donuts, face painting, live dance performances, a petting zoo, a photo booth and a raffle. There is a $10 donation fee to participate in the Walk, which includes a Walk for Living tee shirt, the BBQ and all the activities. The Walk for Living is one of the few walks that are dog-friendly.