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College of Health Science, Children's Coalition partner to organize event with a family focus on health

The University of Louisiana Monroe College of Health Sciences joined with the Children’s Coalition of Northeast Louisiana to organize a community outreach event, “Stepping into a Healthy Spring.”

The event was Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the Origin Bank Family Garden with 28 students from ULM’s Dental Hygiene, Radiologic Technology, Nursing, Speech-Language Pathology, Medical Laboratory Science, and Occupational Therapy Assistant programs.

Kim Whorton, Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene and School of Allied Health Student Community Event Liaison, organized the community outreach event with Cindy George, Volunteer Coordinator at the Children’s Coalition.

“I am so proud of what we accomplished. We asked for volunteers with creative ideas and activities, and we received so much more,” said Whorton. “Our ULM students worked very hard to provide important information in such a fun way. We succeeded in making a difference in our community.”

Each program planned activities that enhanced parents’ and children’s knowledge about health-related topics.

Occupational Therapy Assistant students and Program Director Jennifer Perodeau engaged the children in “Yoga for Health” to show yoga exercises for keeping the body flexible and healthy.

Not only did the kids have fun, but Malynda Magee, a senior Occupational Therapy Assistant student, said it was an impactful experience.

“I was honored to be a part of such a great event for our community and our children. The children really had a great time, all while learning and growing. Little hidden gems like the Monroe Community Garden are what makes Monroe such a beautiful place to live,” Magee said.

Medical Laboratory Science students educated the kids on the importance of proper hand-washing. They had the children apply a lotion that “glittered” under UV light to help visualize the remaining “glitter” as poor hand washing. The children were surprised by the parts of their hands scrubbed ineffectively.

Caroline Streeter, a junior Medical Laboratory Science student, said, “It was fun to see all the children at the event and to help them understand how many germs can be on their hands.”

The Speech-Language Pathology students presented a “Toss and Blend Plastic Cups” activity for the kids to understand different sounds and letter blends. Radiologic Technology students gave “bones” sheets for the kids to recognize the skeletal system through coloring and diagrams.

Dental Hygiene students provided a “Corn Hole Board” game with baskets of “good” versus “bad” snacks to explain the effects of sugar and cavities on teeth.

Senior Dental Hygiene student Shelby Rehms had a great time teaching the children.

“I really enjoyed getting to educate our community on what foods are healthy for their teeth,” Rehms said.

Nursing students shared a “Healthy Habits for Healthy Kids Rainbow” activity allowing the kids to choose healthy foods and snacks from a coloring guide filled with fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, and dairy to “eat a rainbow.”

Donald Simpson, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Health Sciences, commended Whorton and all College of Health Sciences volunteers on their community outreach.

“We view these outreach efforts as a mutual exchange of knowledge and resources. This event demonstrates the substance of President Jimmy Carter’s quote about getting back more than what’s given,” said Simpson. “The service provided by Ms. Whorton and the College of Health Sciences team was carried out in a spirit of partnership, inclusiveness, and reciprocity.”

Like Simpson, Jessica Dolecheck, Ph.D., Program Director of Health Studies and chair of the SOAH Student Community Involvement Committee, was proud of the students’ accomplishments and willingness to learn leadership skills.

“When our Health Science students get involved in community service, they develop empathy and leadership skills and realize how their actions can have a positive impact,” said Dolecheck. “Our students got to interact with parents and children with vastly different backgrounds while learning patience and compassion along with their capacity to serve others.”

Through meaningful partnerships and community outreach, the ULM Health Sciences students and faculty learn the value of giving back and how their actions can positively impact the people we serve.