Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Igniting interest in safety among children for National Public Health Week


College of Nursing student Eric Nowaczyk, along with Bridget Baker and Jackie Dunayevich, teaches Dobson 8th graders about fire safety.


Safety was the name of the game as students from the College of Nursing at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa. kicked off National Public Health Week on April 4th by teaching critical health topics to 7th and 8th graders at the James Dobson Elementary School in nearby Philadelphia. Given their age and compelling injury statistics for children, the nursing students focused on home and sports safety, preparing educational messages in line with the theme for the week “Safety is NO Accident: Live Injury-Free.”

The nursing students who participated are in the College’s traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program or accelerated BSN program for adults with a college degree in another field. The students discussed sport safety in line with the Safety at Play theme of National Public Health Week in the 7th grade classroom. The students developed posters that will hang in the school gym to reinforce the content. They talked with the 8th grade students about fire safety. Discussion targeted having working smoke detectors in the house, making an escape plan with their parents, and knowing what to do in the event of a fire in their home. Games were used to spark interest and engage the youngsters in applying their new knowledge. Smoke detectors were awarded as prizes to the two students who found the most words in a home safety word search.

Having nursing students teaching the children had other positive effects, in addition to learning how to live injury-free. “The Villanova nurses are terrific role models for our students, having them in our school brings college closer to the students,” notes Dobson school counselor Lori Lertora, an alumna of the University.

Regardless of the degree program—the College has bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level programs—students at Villanova have an ongoing focus on patient and community safety and the promotion of health. “Villanova Nursing faculty and students used the APHA week as a reminder of the important role nurses play in keeping individuals and communities safe,” says Kim Connolly, MPH, RN, clinical assistant professor and director of the College of Nursing’s Center for Global and Public Health. This focus cuts across all areas of practice. From discussing safety messages with patients in clinical settings—such as preventing falls at home or encouraging safe environments for infants-- to providing education in school settings, Villanova Nurses highlighted the importance of thinking about and implementing proactive measures at school, work, home and in the community.

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