UNMC's Youth Learning Center moves

by Nicole Lindquist, UNMC public affairs | December 29, 2008

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Fourth grade boys from Jesuit Middle School in Omaha, Kazemere Nicholson, right front, Khalil Reed, left front, Jylon Berry, back right, and Barry Jackson, back left, recently learned about how medical personnel use tuning forks to test patients' hearing as part of a Youth Learning Center program at UNMC.
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Diane Landon, a recruiter for UNMC's physician assistant program, teaches Kalen Byrd, fourth grader at Jesuit Middle School in Omaha, about tuning forks as part of a Youth Learning Center program at UNMC.
UNMC's Youth Learning Center sextupled in size recently when it moved from a small, secluded 1,000-square foot building on 41st and Emile to a much larger, more accessible 6,000-square foot space on 44th and Farnam streets.

"The new location has allowed for expansion of our 21 programs offered to students throughout the community," said Lisa Jewell, director of the UNMC Youth Learning Center.

The additional space was much needed. More than 400 first through 12th grade students pass through the doors of the Youth Learning Center each month. Students from Omaha Public Schools and surrounding school districts such as Bellevue, Elkhorn, Gretna, Louisville and Papillion La-Vista come during school hours, after school and on weekends to learn about health sciences and health careers. Girl Scouts also attend programs each month to earn their medical patches.

UNMC faculty and staff volunteer their time as speakers for the students.

"Most students only meet medical professionals when they have a family emergency or illness," Jewell said. "We bring them to UNMC's campus to experience a fun, hands-on learning environment and educate them about the different health care careers."

For the first time ever, the Youth Learning Center can now hold several programs at one time.

"Before, we operated in a one-room classroom," Jewell said. "Because we can do more than one program at a time now, it allows us to reach more students, accommodate more school districts and add more programs."

The Youth Learning Center's first and most well-known program, the UNMC Community Academy, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this summer. The first session in 1999 consisted of eight students. In this year's session, 110 were accepted.