Anything to keep the kids active this summer and not just sitting at home – that is why a local Fairmont City mother brought her kids and friends to the Fairmont City Library for the summer reading program. Helping occupy kids on their summer break, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Nursing (SON) faculty and community health nursing students are partnering with the library for its summer reading program, introducing educational topics in a fun and engaging way.
The SON program titled Staying Active and Learning About Health is made possible by a grant from SIUE’s Meridian Society. Students from kindergarten to high school are welcomed to the program, as the SON faculty and students have created a variety of activities and learning materials that are fitting for all ages. The educational components revolve around various life topics including mental health, physical activity, sleep, nutrition, and career insight.
“A lot of the kids are looking for things to do throughout the day. They come to the library as a central place in town that they can walk to and participate in healthy and safe activities within the community,” said Amelia Perez, PhD, associate professor in the SON.
Perez along with SON faculty colleagues Tracy Cooley, DNP, Bernadette Sobczak, DNP, Greg Jennings, DNP, and Marilyn Boatman, MSN are leading the initiative.
The teaching materials are developed in both Spanish and English to serve varying community demographics. Perez, a native of the Dominican Republic, is passionate about reaching the Hispanic community. That’s why she has partnered with the Fairmont City Library on various projects for the past 10 years.
“I love working with this community,” Perez said. “Kids need to see professionals that represent their background. Our group of community health nursing students set up all the activities, help supervise the kids, and engage in activities and education with them. It is a good way for nursing students to interact with children from underserved communities and see how important it is to get funding for these types of impactful outreach initiatives.”
Senior nursing student Kena Birge, of Collinsville, has enjoyed the opportunities presented through her community health clinical to gain nursing experience outside of a hospital setting. Birge has been encouraged by the kids’ willingness to engage and respond to her and her classmates.
“I want to be a light in the community,” said Birge “I want to help underserved communities, because they do not always have the access and resources to things they need. It is nice to see these kids come out to the library, wanting to be active and involved.”
Fellow nursing student Arianna Clark, of Hillsboro, arrived at the program’s first session feeling a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect. But she was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
“We all have had a great time playing and teaching,” said Clark. “It is awesome to see community members come to participate. You can tell they have invited their friends. Opportunities like this help kids come out of their shell.”
Clark’s path to her senior nursing classes has been different than most. Nursing was not on Clark’s radar as a career. First, she earned an associate’s degree and pursued a career in the business world. A few years later, Clark realized she needed to make a career change and felt called to pursue nursing.
Interactions with kids at Fairmont City Library assure Clark that her nursing career will allow her to make a marked difference in people’s lives.
SON nursing faculty and students will continue the summer program with one more session to be held from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Wednesday, July 13 at the Fairmont City Library. Visit the Fairmont City Library Facebook page for more information about their summer programs.
The School of Nursing’s programs are committed to creating excellence in nursing leadership through innovative teaching, evidence-based practice, quality research, patient advocacy and community service. Enrolling more than 1,700 students in its baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders in pursuit of shaping the nursing profession and impacting the health care environment. SIUE’s undergraduate nursing programs on the Edwardsville campus help to solve the region’s shortage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses and enhance the quality of nursing practice within all patient service venues. The School’s graduate programs prepare nurses for advanced roles in clinical practice, administration and education.
PHOTO: SIUE community health nursing students play soccer with a Fairmont City Library summer program attendee.