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Neurology Department gives students a BOOST

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rising eighth graders from throughout Durham learned all about stroke on Wednesday, thanks to the Building Opportunities and Overtures in Science and Technology (BOOST) program and Neurocritical Care Fellow Yasmin Ali, MD. In all, 24 students learned everything from what happens in the brain during a stroke, to what it’s like to get dressed, eat, and pay bills with a fully or partially paralyzed limb.

BOOST is a program designed to excite children from grades 5 through 12 – particularly underrepresented minorities, girls, and kids from economically challenged backgrounds – about science and inspire them to pursue careers in medicine and related fields. BOOST’s XXL session, which focuses on the brain, spent all this week learning about the body’s most important organ from the Ali, as well as the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences, the Department of Psychiatry, and other locations.

During the interactive lessons, Ali taught the students the basics about strokes: what they are, how they can be prevented, and how the acronym BE FAST (balance, eyes, face, arms, speech and time), can help people recognize a stroke and respond to a stroke when it occurs. In the second half, students tried everyday tasks, such as putting on a shirt or belt, tying their shoes, stuffing an envelope, or opening a water bottle or piece of candy with either an hanging limp or a hand covered with a sock.

"Community outreach is such an important and sometimes forgotten part of medicine, which is why programs like BOOST are so important. Kids this age are so fun to work with because they have this voracious sense of curiosity, and ask some of the most amazing questions. It was a blast!," Ali said.


BOOST, which has various programs running throughout the year, is seeking volunteers to act as Science Coaches to work with their students. Medical or graduate students, residents, and fellows who are women or from underrepresented minority groups are particularly encouraged to apply. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Program Director Douglass Coleman at 919-681-1045 or