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Three Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) students joined a Geisinger Health Foundation team working to address the problem of childhood obesity.

Dr. Michael Ryan and Alison Woody lead the foundation team, which is now in the running for a national prize of $150,000.
Max Cornell, Class of 2021, Jino Park, Class of 2022 and Mark Mandel, Class of 2022 helped create an app, including shooting and editing video, that the foundation has put to use to get kids moving. The app brings the foundation concept, “Pediatricians Prescribing Play” to life by providing a tool families can use to encourage their child’s physical activity and track the child’s progress. The videos, created by Cornell, Park and Mandel and starring numerous GCSOM classmates, teach children everything from yoga poses to how to do jumping jacks. There’s even a high-energy exercise sequence filmed to the infectious global hit, “Baby Shark,” recorded by GCSOM student, Kenneth Lam (MD Class of 2021) and starring Terrence Habiyaremye (MD Class of 2022). Check out the video below!
Cornell and Mandel traveled with the foundation team to Rockville, MD the week of Sept. 16 to compete in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) “Grand Challenges Demo Days.” HRSA Challenges are prize competitions seeking innovative technology solutions to critical maternal and child health issues. The Geisinger team’s app was entered and was a winner in HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s “grand challenge” to prevent childhood obesity. This challenge supports innovative technology-based solutions to empower low-income families to achieve and sustain healthy eating practices and healthy lifestyles. After a successful presentation, the Geisinger team won the right to move on to Phase 3, an achievement that came with a check of $25,000 and the chance to compete for $150,000 in 2020.
Before reaching the “Demo Days” round of the competition, the Geisinger team’s proposal won HRSA seed funding to build out and test their ideas, with the help of experts who served as mentors to the teams. HRSA selected “Physicians Prescribing Play” as one of 10 winning ideas from a field of more than 70 nationwide applicants.
During the September Demo Days, teams competed for a share of a $125,000 prize and an opportunity to move to the third and final phase of the competitions by demonstrating their innovations to a panel of judges in a format much like the reality show “Shark Tank,” where contestants have just a few minutes to make a winning pitch. Judges were all federal employees and experts in the field. Demo Days also included two panel discussions with leaders in the fields of health technology innovation and commercialization, as well as two showcase sessions for teams to network with the panelists, judges, HRSA staff and each other.
Over the past eight months, a comprehensive internal team at Geisinger worked to build a prototype app that uses elements of game playing and exercise videos to get low-income kids moving. The GCSOM students worked in pediatric clinics in the Scranton area to enroll and educate Medicaid-eligible children and their families on how to use the app and created and filmed all the videos.


Pediatricians Prescribing Play
Mark Mandel and Jino Park, both members of GCSOM’s MD Class of 2022, describe their research and the program, Pediatricians Prescribing Play, to Dr. Judith Pryblick at the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) House of Delegates Annual Conference.
Pediatricians Prescribing Play
Mark Mandel accepts an award for his poster, Pediatricians Prescribing Play: A Unique and Scalable Approach To Combat Childhood Obesity from of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) board chair, Dr. John Gallagher.