Taft's Public Health Club is working to spread awareness of underfunded diseases, and to share crucial medical information with the school and greater Watertown communities.
Fiona Chou ’25 has been pursuing her interest in public health and medicine since middle school. Her hope has always been to make a difference while strengthening communities. The first step, Fiona believed, was to make the science of medicine more accessible. She did so by building a community of “junior doctors” through her science-based, research-driven YouTube channel.
“I wanted to create a platform for people who had the same interests as me,” says Fiona, who, in her middle school videos wears a white lab coat while using both physical and digital models to walk her viewers through lessons on the anatomy of the heart, disorders of the central nervous system, the health benefits of chocolate, and SARS-CoV-2, to name just a few. Fiona spent hours poring over medical journals, scientific publications, and websites to develop meaningful and scientifically accurate content for her YouTube channel. She relied heavily on information published by medical vanguards, including the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University.
As a Taft student, Fiona continues to research and develop content for her YouTube channel, relying more heavily, now, on personal experiences. In her current videos, she visits topics like dance anatomy, which blend her interest in science and medicine with her talents as a dancer, and videos focusing on cardiac health, anatomy, and medicine, all of which she studied and practiced during a hands-on cardiothoracic surgical skills internship at UCLA School of Medicine last summer. She is also growing her “junior doctor” community offline, with fellow Taft students.
“I founded the Public Health Club at Taft because I wanted to bring more medical information to the school community,” Fiona says. “The club's mission is to spread awareness about underfunded diseases, and to share crucial medical information with the school community and the greater Watertown community. Maggie Zeng ’24 was also interested in this work, and thus, as co-heads, we started planning for fundraisers, collaborations with other clubs, and many other events.”
During Fall Parents’ Weekend in October, Taft Public Health Club members held a fundraising event for the Susan G. Komen® Breast Cancer Foundation; during Winter Parents’ Weekend they did the same for the National Cervical Cancer Coalition by selling matcha and boba. Fiona promoted both on her YouTube channel.
The club’s most recent initiative took them into the field, connecting with the broader community to share their mission. Club members traveled to The Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington (CHWC), which provides a range of healthcare services for underserved populations throughout northwest Connecticut. CHWC received federal funding to create education and awareness around the importance of COVID-19 vaccines. More than a dozen Taft Public Health Club members and volunteers worked with CHWC to build hundreds of “COVID-19 Kits” for the Center’s clients.
“I was so excited to be able to expand our impact into the greater Torrington community,” Fiona says. “I am beyond happy and grateful that the event was such a success.”
And while members of Taft’s Public Health Club will continue the important work of broad community outreach, they will also begin working closer to home.
“I also envision the club hosting events that spread awareness of medicine in our own school community,” Fiona explains. “We are currently planning a project around sports medicine. Since sports are such a big part of life at Taft, we want to create initiatives that will educate students about importance of safety and health in athletics, or inform them about treating and curing sports injuries.”