Into the schools: a health campaign with nursing students from St John Fisher College

This week, Sacred Valley Health had the good fortune to collaborate with nursing students and professors from St John Fisher College (Rochester, NY). They joined our community health workers (promotoras) to bring health education to children in the Ollantaytambo District. (Check out the SJFC Peru trip blog here.) The student nurses and promotoras ran fun, interactive hand washing and tooth brushing lessons at local schools. (See previous posts about Sacred Valley Health’s hand washing and oral hygiene campaigns.)

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Showing the kids toothbrushing supplies in the Chilca school

Pupils learned the importance of washing hands to prevent germs spreading and to reduce the risk of catching a stomach bug. The nursing students did a great job of dirtying their hands to show how germs may be transferred, and the promotoras expertly explained how and when washing hands is important!

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Promotora Teresa running the hand washing station outside the Huilloc school.

Promotoras and student nurses at one station taught pupils how to make a Tippy Tap – a hand washing contraption created from plastic bottles which can be used anywhere. Perfect for use on the family farms, especially as we’re in the midst of harvest season!

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The Tippy Tap station started off with a splash in Chilca!

Many children in this part of Peru have lots of cavities and poor mouth health. They have limited access to dentists, low levels of education about tooth and gum care, and high sugar intake. Everyone is grateful for the SJFC team’s generous donation of toothbrushes and toothpaste!

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Each pupil received a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and a month’s supply of vitamins. Thanks, SJFC!

Promotoras and nursing students visited four schools last week, teaching correct tooth brushing technique and explaining the importance of regular brushing. They also made sure that every student visited the fluoride application station. (Local families get their water from the river, which is not fluoridated.) Every student left school that day with his or her own toothbrush and tube of toothpaste!

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St John Fisher students counting down at the fluoride station in Huilloc.

Nursing students and promotoras also recorded pupils’ height and weight. This data will help SVH staff to identify nutritional issues that can then be targeted in promotora trainings. The measurements proved to be a huge source of intrigue for school pupils, each of whom kept a copy of their own!

A copy of all information collected will be given to each school, ensuring that their health records are up-to-date and accurate. The teachers in all the schools were enthusiastic and receptive, asking us to return in the future to run more campaigns and educate pupils in different health-related themes.

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Our vision is for the promotoras to deliver health education to children in schools, as they already do for adults in their communities’ general assemblies. Observing the promotoras’ confidence and professionalism over the past week made us proud, and we are excited about their future as community educators!

We at Sacred Valley Health are deeply grateful to the St John Fisher nursing students and professors for coming to Peru to collaborate with us. Their hard work, enthusiasm, and generosity have made a huge difference. We wish all the students success as they embark on their nursing careers!

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Update: We are excited that SJFC published an in-depth article about the trip. Check out it out here. The graduating class of seniors from the Wegmans School of Nursing also made a $500 donation to SVH (see article here). This is in addition to the seniors’ generous donation of their time and effort while they were with us in Peru. Thanks, SJFC! We are very grateful to each of you and hope to continue this partnership for a long time to come!

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