LETTER: Saline Grad and Medical Student Casey Schukow Leads Camp on Good Skin Knowledge
To the editors of the Saline Post:
My name is Casey Schukow and I am currently a fourth-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) interested in pursuing a career in dermatology. Before beginning medical school, I grew up in Saline, graduating from Saline High School in 2013, and then going on to Hillsdale College (MI) where I continued my football career and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Science (BSc) degree in Biochemistry in 2018.
Earlier this month, on July 1 and 2, I had the privilege of leading the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) Good Skin Knowledge (GSK) Project for 9-12 year-old campers at the Saline Rec Center’s Summer Kids Camp. This project was established by members of the AAD to bring skin care lesson plans and interactive activities to children and adolescents throughout the United States, in response to COVID-19 virtual learning guidelines. With help from AAD members and Sunshine Lambert of Saline Recreation, we were able to bring this project back to my hometown of Saline for four sessions of virtual fun while learning about the skin.
Each session was led by me in a remote location, while Sunshine and Summer Kids Camp counselors (such as Wendy Szuminski) facilitated instructions in the Rec Center’s multipurpose room (see Images 2 and 3). Topics covered among the four sessions, with the help of interactive activities, were: an introduction of the skin, acne, sun protection, and, lastly, plants and bugs.
In particular, one activity we did which left a large impact on the campers was learning about the different layers of the skin while using painted styrofoam blocks that they decorated with cotton balls, pipe cleaners, and more (see Image 4). The top layer of each block represented the epidermis (the uppermost layer of the skin), which was painted some shade of pink to yellow to brown to black. This represents how different skin colors exist in not just the community of Saline, but in communities all over the world. After teaching the campers about why different skin colors exist, the campers taught back to me that ‘melanin’ is responsible for different skin colors, and that different skin colors are due to the different types of melanin and differences in how much melanin is present in a person’s epidermis. This moment (and others) helped teach the campers the importance of understanding and embracing the differences in everyone’s skin.
Although the masks may be covering their faces up, Sunshine, Wendy, and I know the campers all had a wonderful time learning about the body’s largest organ. Being able to give back to the community of Saline this way, especially during the difficult COVID-19 pandemic, has been an overwhelmingly positive experience and I cannot express the level of gratitude I feel towards having this opportunity. It is a similar gratitude I felt giving back to this community during my time as a Saline High School student athlete all those years ago.
Casey Paul Schukow
Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM)
Detroit Campus (DMC)
Class of 2022