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USD AWOL, winter break, service learning, health, healthcare, disease


Where you are from has a major impact on your health. Rural areas have lower access to healthcare compared to their urban counterpart. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found inequalities in rural areas cause higher rates of death due to heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke; causing a higher mortality rate compared to urban areas. An aspect that decreases access is affordability. When families are food insecure or have poor housing security, they must spend their money on essential needs of food and shelter. Since rural areas in the Midwest have less access to soup kitchens or food banks, due to a lack of public transportation or facilities, citizens must spend more of their income on food than food insecure urban citizens. Furthermore, urban areas have greater amounts of low-income or subsidized housing to obtain affordable housing. These expenditures decrease the availability of income for healthcare. This availability of income affects childhood development as children may not receive needed medical treatment, proper nutrition, or live in a safe environment. In South Dakota, from January 6-9, our AWOL alternative break group was able to explore these implications by volunteering with the Bishop Dudley house, Feeding South Dakota, the Ronald McDonald House of Sioux City, the Vermillion Backpack Program, and the Good Samaritan Society of Tyndall. We were able to see that many citizens of the Midwest are struggling with food security and homelessness, and as a result, healthcare is only accessed when critical, so chronic diseases tend to develop, and mental health goes untreated. This exposed us to the importance of becoming active citizens who are educated and involved with social issues that affect the community to work to improve societal conditions.

First Advisor

Kim Albracht

Research Area

Service Learning, USD AWOL