Teaching reproductive health and nutrition at the Huilloc Colegio

Prepared and excited following last week’s planning (see previous blog post), Sacred Valley Health and 24 nursing students from SUNY Brockport brought health campaigns to school children in remote communities this week. We started the week with a morning in Huilloc’s colegio (high school). Pupils from other high altitude villages as far away as Kelccanka and Yanamayo also attend the colegio. This means that information from this day will hopefully cascade out into the far reaches of the valley!

SUNY Brockport students hosted five stations, where they delivered interactive lessons for pupils whose ages ranged from 12-18. Boys and girls split up to learn about the basics of sexual health, anatomy, and reproduction, including an emphasis on gaining your partner’s permission before engaging in sexual activity. This was first time the topic of reproductive health had been broached in this colegio, and it was met with reservations and trepidation but also with obvious interest. Promotora Teresa was fantastic at engaging the students in the subject matter, and her teaching was well received by the curious teenagers.

Curious boys gather around to learn important lessons about sexual health.
Curious boys gather around to learn important lessons about sexual health.
Boys look at diagrams of the male reproductive system.

Another station addressed dental care. Run by promotora Santusa, it included teaching effective brushing technique, counting cavities (of which there were many), applying fluoride, and providing individual toothbrushes and toothpastes to all students. The majority reported not already owning a toothbrush, and they were excited to finally get their own.

Say cheese! Promotora Santusa performs cavity counts.
Say cheese! Promotora Santusa performs cavity counts.

Rotating through stations every 10 minutes, students also received a head-to-toe physical health check by the student nurses, overseen by registered nurses. Heights and weights were collected for analysis in the SVH office, where the data will be compared to international recommendations. A copy of all health data will be provided to the colegio for its records – a first in this region!

A hive of activity: pupils receive basic health checks from SUNY Brockport nursing students.
A hive of activity: pupils receive basic health checks from SUNY Brockport nursing students.

In high altitude communities where people rely on potatoes as their chief source of energy, vitamin deficiencies can occur. SVH donated multivitamins to the colegio for distribution by the teachers. The pupils and SUNY students played an interactive game to help the children learn about different food groups and their importance for health. Holding up apples, SUNY students were met by shouts of ‘SALUDABLE!’ (healthy) from eager pupils who were obviously enjoying learning about diet and nutrition!

The Brockport team and SVH staff were excited to be able to deliver this health education, and pleased with how well it was received. The promotoras taught confidently and reported enjoying their roles as health educators. We are hopeful that the colegio students learned a lot and will share their new knowledge with their families. We look forward to returning to the colegio for followup activities and to providing similar training at other schools. Many thanks to the SUNY Brockport students and professors for their hard work and enthusiasm!


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