Laptop? Check. Bed linens? Check. Clothes? Check. School supplies? Of course.First-aid kit? Maybe?
When they’re living away from home – and even when taking classes remotely – many students arrive at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prepared and ready to jump into their coursework and extracurricular activities. But many don’t arrive with one of the major essential for life away from home: basic first-aid supplies.
Two University undergrads are looking to mend that problem. Kate Leo and Hannah Tuckman, both juniors at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, are leading an initiative to put first-aid kits in the hands of first-year students.
Through persistent social entrepreneurial efforts, they are partnering with UNC Campus Health to provide 500 free, general first-aid kits to students just getting started at Carolina. Although the initiative is primarily focused on first-year students, the first-aid kits are free to any student who requests them.
“We realized that people come to Carolina with very little knowledge about Campus Health or with really anything to prepare themselves in case they get hurt or sick,” said Tuckman, a biostatistics major. “There is a big transition from where your parents are taking care of you in high school versus when you’re a freshman at college. It can be a shock that you have to put yourself first, take care of yourself and understand what you need.”
With a focus on equitable access to care and wellness promotion, the first-aid kit initiative aims to educate as well. Not only do the first-aid kits contain basic supplies, they also include information about common illness symptoms (including those associate with COVID-19), treatments, and a list of medications and resources available at UNC Campus Health.
The idea for the initiative was born during the First-Year Seminar where Leo and Tuckman met. The course teaches students to seek innovative solutions for social transformation through entrepreneurial thought and action. Leo and Tuckman were assigned a semester-long project that became the first-aid kit initiative. Taught by Melissa Carrier, the course asks students to explore their vision for the state of the world and provides them with the mindset and tools to make that vision a reality.
“We want to empower students to develop their mindset, skills and knowledge so they can identify and practice lifelong change-making,” said Carrier, a professor of the practice in public policy and director of social innovation with Innovate Carolina. “Through their dedication and entrepreneurial spirit, Kate and Hannah are an inspiration to other students who want to make a direct impact on their local community.”
What sparked the idea? While sitting in the main lobby of her freshmen dorm, Tuckman saw a student approach the front desk and ask for bandages. He was bleeding from a skateboarding accident. Unfortunately, the front desk didn’t have supplies on hand to help. Often, first-aid supplies aren’t readily available across campus other than at Campus Health. After Leo and Tuckman began talking with other students, resident advisors, nurses at Campus Health and other health organizations across campus, the idea for the first-aid kits was born.