Dean Schillinger: Helping Kids Slam Diabetes – with Poetry

Dean Schillinger, MD

Dean Schillinger, MD, a practicing physician at San Francisco General Hospital, worked with the slam poetry nonprofit, Youth Speaks, to create the award-winning  “The Bigger Picture" campaign. The Bigger Picture is a collaboration between Youth Speaks and the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations designed to combat the rising epidemic of Type 2 diabetes in young people by reframing the disease as a product of social conditions. The campaign encourages youth from vulnerable populations to express their challenges and the effects of the environment on healthy living and enables them to serve as agents of broader change – through spoken word performance.

“I’ve become extremely interested in trying to engage young people in tackling this epidemic and bringing younger people’s voices into the conversation,” says Dean. “[The Bigger Picture participants] became really eloquent spokespeople calling out the major social forces that are causing this epidemic in ways that I as a doctor just simply couldn’t do. And they did it in ways that resonate with their peers and other stakeholders. They give me hope that, together, we can tackle this epidemic."

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