Going from student to teacher
How medical student Vanessa Ramos’s own experience with acne led to her using Good Skin Knowledge materials to teach local Girl Scouts about their skin.
As an adolescent, I struggled with persistent acne which affected my mental health significantly. I developed poor self-esteem and became socially withdrawn. There was so much stigma surrounding acne and I always felt judged by my peers based on my appearance.
No one ever educated me about my skin. Adults always told me that my acne wasn’t a big deal and that it would eventually go away. However, it was a major concern for me, and my skin became my greatest insecurity. It wasn’t until years later that I was able to get my skin under control through the help of dermatologists, which is what inspired me to pursue a career in medicine.
When I was informed about the American Academy of Dermatology’s Good Skin Knowledge (GSK) program during my second year of medical school, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to the community. Over the next two years, I co-taught GSK to local Girl Scouts with the help of two other medical students. We incorporated hands-on activities that made it fun and easy for the girls to learn. GSK helped the girls build confidence, promote well-being, and reduce stigma surrounding common skin conditions.
It was such a rewarding experience to be a role model and make connections with these girls, especially because I used to be a Girl Scout. It was truly a full-circle moment for me to go from student to teacher about a topic that I was passionate about.
I wish that someone had taught me about my skin at an earlier age. As an adult, I love that I can help children understand the significance of the skin as a vital organ in the body through GSK. It’s never too early or late to encourage people of all ages to care for their skin. Teaching good skin habits at a young age is essential to help reduce or prevent damage that can lead to consequences such as scarring, pigment changes, and skin cancer. Furthermore, these lesson plans teach youth about mindfulness, respect, and to appreciate the differences in peoples’ skin color and physical characteristics (e.g., freckles and moles). During our sessions, we discussed the science that makes us have different skin colors and shades. The girls appreciated hearing first-hand how skin conditions had affected us personally. The training was invaluable and one that I will never forget!
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The Good Skin Knowledge youth education campaign provides free resources to educators to teach children about acne, skin health, and sun protection. Learn more about how you can get involved.Get involved