#UMNMCH student Myo Myo Aye (she/her) (MPH 2022) wrote this reflection on how her role as a Research Intern with the Minnesota Vision Health Task Force at Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) has contributed to her career in MCH. Her work creating briefs at MPS highlighted the importance of describing the impact of young children’s vision health. In this segment, Myo shares how the project is improving early detection of vision concerns and access to treatment for young children in Minneapolis.
I will complete my Master of Public Health (MPH) in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) in Spring 2022, with a minor in Epidemiology. I pursued a degree in public health due to its importance and impact on society. Public Health helps us understand the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities through education, policymaking, research for disease and injury prevention. My interest in studying maternal and child health is goal-directed for improving the well-being of mothers, infants, children, and the livelihoods of the next generation, which affects communities, families, and the health care system.
Minnesota Vision Health Task Force
The Minnesota team is one of eight selected to participate in a Better Vision Together- Community of Practice, which is convened by the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH). The project is convened by the NCCVEH and funded through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The goal of this two-year project is to improve vision and eye health in the at-risk, minority, and vulnerable populations of young children. The NCCVEH works with the Community of Practice to implement actions and solutions anchored in population health strategies through a peer-support approach, including policy change, systems of vision and eye health, public awareness, and data collection. The team is led by Minneapolis Public Schools, Office of Early Childhood Education along with organizational members from American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Leadership Education in Maternal Child Public Health, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities , Parents in Community Action: Head Start and Early Head Start, Children’s Minnesota , City of Minneapolis Health Department , City of Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, Early Youth Eyecare (E.Y.E.) and Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile, Phillips Eye Institute, part of Allina Health, Hennepin County Public Health Family Services, MD5M Lions KidSight Foundation, Inc Minneapolis Public Schools, Office of Early Childhood Education , Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Early Childhood Screening (ECS) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Child and Teen Checkups (EPSDT).
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Early Childhood Screening (ECS)
In the spring of 2017, a local chapter of the Lions Club International invited MPS Early Childhood Screening (ECS) to engage in a collaboration to improve vision screening of young children in the city of Minneapolis through the donation of a Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener device to use when administering vision screening at MPS Early Childhood Screening clinics. The results of the project greatly exceeded expectations in improving early detection of vision concerns and access to treatment, particularly for underserved populations. In response to these findings along with family and community feedback, MPS ECS has been determined to focus on scaling the new strategies to improve early detection and timely access to vision health services in education, health, county, and community programs.
MPS is looking to scale vision photo screening by expanding the age range of children who receive vision photo screening to include infants and children up to5 years old. MPS seeks to improve coordination of vision screening and links to follow up across departments and in the community. Building up the cooperation and partnership across the departments and connecting with the organizations from outside will improve MPS service delivery to families and children leading to an increase in early detection of vision concerns and treatment. In addition, using parent feedback for MPS process improvements will create a person-centered service delivery framework. MPS seeks to develop a vision health plan with partners in other jurisdictions and sectors to improve population level, vision screening.
Deployment of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Early Childhood Screening (ECS) Research Intern Part I
I began my deployment as an intern with the Minnesota Vision Health Task Force at MPS Early Childhood Screening during the Fall semester 2021. Starting as an intern in the middle of the pandemic was a daunting experience — it was a new environment, a new team, a new project, and lots of things that could go sideways. However, there are also a lot of things that went right! The vision health task force professional members were willing to teach me about the data analysis of the project and developing a vision health plan for the City of Minneapolis. I found an extremely welcoming, supportive team that helped me ramp up and take ownership of my work quickly and effectively. I felt so supported that I gave my all to start the project. I started the internship by developing research questions and hypotheses for monthly meetings. After that, I created communications on behalf of the Task Force and supported the facilitation of task force meetings. For example, coordinating with support cross-department meetings to present information from strategy development, survey analysis, and co-design strategies for systems and program improvements, working on Environmental Scan on children’s vision health was fun. I absorbed knowledge and was fascinated to explore what other organizations are doing for children’s vision health.
Deployment of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Early Childhood Screening (ECS) Research Intern Part II
Through my deployment as a Research Intern, I have been gaining experiences and knowledge as a professional public health practitioner. At the same time, I have been using skills through my own experiences and learnings from my MCH schooling to be able to turn the ideas into a reality and resulting in a successful internship. Of course, there were times when I felt unsure of myself and my abilities but this is why it was so important to rely on my team. In the end, I feel I have grown a lot during my internship not only professionally, but personally as well! I look forward to working on more projects. I was excited to write this student spotlight, which I hope will inspire more people to take a chance, believe in themselves and just go for it! Even in these strange, stressful times, good things can and do happen, especially when you are surrounded by talented and inspiring people.
Myo Myo Aye is a second-year MCH MPH student. Myo received her Bachelor of Science degree in public health from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. While she was pursuing undergrad, she helped Public Health Nurses at Community Action with Head Start children’s health and well-being while they were at school. She is currently working with MPS-Early Childhood in Minneapolis and an intern at Minnesota Vision Health Task Force. In her spare time, she enjoys learning new things or skills, reading, and spending time with friends and family. After graduating, Myo plans to continue her education in Doctor of Philosophy- Epidemiology and pursue employment at the World Health Organization or UNICEF. In the long run, Myo desires to become a global public health advocate and ensure the safety of vulnerable populations and improve the health of communities worldwide through education, policymaking, and research.
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