Member Spotlight: Sarah Boeke wins the Rosalie Ginsberg Community Service Award

June 17, 2024


By Kim Douglas

Rising Senior and Pop-Up Safety Town Curriculum development lead, Sarah Boeke, was honored with the Rosalie Ginsberg Dedicated Community Service Award at this year’s M-Lead Leadership Ceremony. This award recognizes an individual and group who made a positive, meaningful, and lasting impact in surrounding communities through social action and community engagement. In a recent interview, Sarah shared her aspirations and the impactful work she has done with Pop-Up Safety Town. 

“The award is not a reflection of the work I personally do, but the team environment and it truly is such a massive team behind Pop-Up Safety town. I am really proud to be a part of that and contribute what I can.”

Pop-Up Safety Town was launched in 2018 and has since evolved into a highly successful program. During 2022-2023, Pop-Up Safety Town traveled to seven different sites in Michigan and was able to fit more than 600 helmets on children aged three to five. When Sarah joined the initiative, Dr. Hashikawa, the program director and Emergency Medicine physician, was exploring ways to expand the program due to high demand from schools across the state of Michigan and the country. This led to the creation of “Pop-Up Safety Town in a Box,” a concept similar to meal kit services. The box contains all the necessary props and materials, allowing teachers to easily implement the program in their classrooms. Sarah noted that working at Pop-Up Safety Town events is one of her favorite parts of being on the team. She remarked, “When you talk to a parent and see how happy they are that their kids are given an adjustable helmet, it’s really rewarding. I’m just hoping we can continue to expand and reach more people and communities.”

Her research, “Pop-Up Safety Town: Leveling the Playing Field for Children in Underserved Communities Through Injury Prevention Education,” has been published in The Journal of School Health. Pop-Up Safety Town aims to bring injury prevention education to preschoolers and families in urban and rural communities facing health disparities. Sarah hopes that school administrators and educators will read the paper and find ways to apply its insights to their own communities. She remarked, “We are not the experts in what other communities across the country need, but I hope after they read the article they can take away what would be effective for them.” 

Sarah’s dedication to early injury prevention education has propelled her into the spotlight of various conferences. She recently spoke at the Child and Adolescent Safety Panel at “Rethinking Injuries: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Harm, Safety, and Society,” an international conference hosted by Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, she presented a poster at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference in Washington, showcasing the Pop-Up Safety Curriculum Kits she developed with Dr. Andrew Hashikawa. Most recently, she attended the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR) conference in Chapel Hill. Sarah emphasized the value of attending these conferences and engaging with researchers and practitioners from different fields. As an undergraduate student, she found the experience of public speaking and presenting scientific information invaluable for her future career.

Sarah mentioned how she entered Michigan knowing she was going to be pre-med, building a foundation for her future in the medical field. Her advisor recommended an introductory course which opened her eyes to the broader field of public health. Sarah said, “I like how you could work really closely with individuals and families to design tailored solutions; I just think the public health approach really compliments the type of medicine that I want to go into.” Sarah plans to graduate in December 2024 with a degree in public health with future plans of attending medical school and pursuing a master’s in public health. 

“Sarah Boeke is an exceptional undergraduate at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and her efforts have elevated Pop-up Safety Town. She has helped create educational kits for preschool teachers in underserved areas that have expanded the program’s impact. Her efforts epitomize how creative volunteerism can address early childhood injury prevention disparities with remarkable effectiveness.”

Dr. Andrew Hashikawa, MD, MS