Student Awarded Grant To Teach Yoga

Julie French

By Julie FrenchThe Daily Northwestern

First-year medical student Adrienne Hampton was awarded a $2,000 grant this week for her proposal to teach prenatal yoga to underserved women in Chicago.

Hampton was one of 30 students to win the yearlong grant from the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program, which promotes service learning for students in health-related fields.

“It makes me uncomfortable to witness the disparities in health that exist, so I want to address that,” said Hampton, who plans to use the award to teach pregnant women in prison. “I find that yoga is a really good way to process things I’m going through. I thought these women might respond in the same way.”

Aside from her altruistic motives, Hampton said she just likes being around expectant mothers.

“Pregnant ladies are cute,” she said. “They tend to glow.”

Before enrolling at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Hampton worked as an HIV counselor at the Women’s Collective in Washington, D.C. During her year of service there, Hampton helped administer HIV tests, gave presentations at women’s shelters and health fairs and witnessed a delivery that she said helped solidify her decision to attend medical school and work with pregnant women.

“The past work I’ve done with women who were recently released demonstrated to me that there was a need in this population,” she said. “A lot of times women just wanted to talk about their lives and things they were going through.”

A majority of the women she worked with at the women’s center suffered from child abuse or domestic abuse, Hampton said. Many of them were also dealing with custody battles, addictions or addictive behavior, such as returning to abusive spouses.

Hampton said she hopes yoga will help the women develop stress-management skills and find a “moment of calm” during their struggles.

“It’s not easy to kick an addiction,” she said. “But in addition to therapy and pharmaceuticals, yoga could help.”

Hampton said she also expects to benefit from teaching the classes because she will gain insight into her future patients’ lives that doctors’ visits alone cannot provide.

“Adrienne is very compassionate,” said June Pollydore, Hampton’s supervisor at the Women’s Collective. “She is a brilliant child eager to learn, and she mixed well with the clients.”

Hampton will take a yoga certification class this summer and teach two 90-minute classes each week beginning in August. She practiced yoga herself for five years, but this will be her first time teaching it. The Schweitzer Fellowship will only provide funding until the end of May, but Hampton said she would like to continue teaching for as long as the prison site will allow.

“I see this project as a wonderful fit for her in terms of her interest and passion in improving the health and lives of women,” said Feinberg Prof. John Franklin, Hampton’s project mentor. “This project will be beneficial not only to the women but also (for) the infants being born.”

Because yoga and other alternative health treatments are underutilized, Franklin said, Hampton’s proposal is a step in the right direction.

“I think she’s going to be a leader in bringing innovative treatment mentalities to women’s health,” he said.

Reach Julie French at [email protected]