UA Pharmacy Camp Introduces Arizona Kids To Health Careers

By Maya Springhawk Robnett
Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - 11:55am
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 11:52am
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(Photo by Maya Springhawk Robnett - KAWC)
Paul Shah, the owner and pharmacist of the Santa Teresa Pharmacy in San Luis, explains unused prescription pill disposal to some of the students.
(Photo by Maya Springhawk Robnett - KAWC)
Students, councilors, organizers and staff of Santa Teresa Pharmacy in San Luis.
(Photo by Maya Springhawk Robnett - KAWC)
A student prepares expired and unused prescription pills for disposal by crushing them in a plastic bag.

Yuma middle-school students got an inside look at the pharmaceutical industry at the family-owned Santa Teresa Pharmacy, where they got some hands-on training.

During the four-day camp sponsored by the University of Arizona, 27 Yuma middle-school students learned how to make hand sanitizer and sunscreen, as well as how to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs — by crushing them in a plastic bag and mixing them with coffee grounds.

The program’s organizer, Dr. Theodore Tong, UA associate dean, said the point is to teach the scientific method, not just about a single profession.

“We’re not like the Pied Piper who comes into town and takes the children away. We think we’ve introduced them to what the music is. And the music continues to play,” said Tong.

Natalie Chavez, a 13-year-old Crane Middle School student, thought PharmCamp would just be something fun to do. But she said the guidance of the college-age counselors have made an impact.

“I’ve always wanted to go to college; when I was little, I’ve always said that. There’s some college students here. Listening to how much they’ve accomplished, really encouraged me," said Chavez.

The Yuma camp was free for students thanks to donations from community members, such as the Yuma Friends of the Arizona Health Sciences.

This year, camps were scheduled in six cities. The Yuma, Casa Grande and Phoenix camps were held in June. Programs are scheduled for Tucson and Sierra Vista starting July 11 and in Nogales starting July 5.

UA’s PharmCamp program has been serving Arizona students every summer since 1997.

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