Local elementary students learn about health care careers

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
(By Sabrina Westfall) Shakamak Elementary School second grader Grace Scott participated in the hula hoop contest at the BodyWorks summer day camp Tuesday. The hula hoop contest showed students how their muscles and bones work together to create motion.
(By Sabrina Westfall) Bloomfield elementary first grader Mara Burch practiced putting the plastic brain back together at the day camp for Health and Science Week.

Greene and Sullivan County elementary school students are participating in the BodyWorks day camp at the Twin Rivers Health Careers classroom.

The Health and Science Week program is in its pilot year for the Health and Sciences Week camp coordinated by West Central Indiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

AHEC Outreach Coordinator Janet Rose said the week started with first and second graders, and will end the week with fourth and fifth graders.

Students started off the week by learning about how bones and muscles work together to complete daily tasks. They learned how stomach muscles and the hip bones work together to help them hula hoop, for example.

The second day of the camp students began learning about the brain and heart.

Rose explained the purpose of the program is to get students thinking at an early age about a future career in the health care field.

"Our goal is to see if they are interested in health care careers because of the shortage in these fields, especially in the rural areas," Rose said.

Cross noted the program will allow local youth to see the possibility of a future of working in the health field.

Rose said Greene County has been very helpful in implementing the programs to jump start a future in the medical field, including Twin Rivers Instructor Carmen Cross.

"I had this idea that they have this beautiful facility not being used in the summer," Rose said about the Twin Rivers Health Careers classroom. "The idea behind this is to become a feeder program into the Twin Rivers Program."

Cross made it possible to open up the facility to the students, which is within walking distance of Greene County General Hospital (GCGH).

Students will be given a tour of the hospital during the day camp by hospital staff.

Rose said GCGH has been especially welcoming of their programming, and has hosted the Great Hospital Adventure the last couple years.

Cross said she was glad she could open up the classroom to the day camps over the summer.

She noted she hopes this program will give the students an idea of what they can look forward to in terms of health care education in the future.

The Twin Rivers Health Sciences program works with juniors and seniors from seven high schools in Greene and Sullivan Counties.

Students spend half a day in the Twin Rivers classroom, and the other half at their high school. They are also given the opportunity to work with local health care providers in internship program.

Cross noted hosting the day camp program is a way for Twin Rivers to give back to the AHEC, which annually sponsors the field trip to the Simulation Lab of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative (RHIC) at Union Hospital West.

Cross said the AHEC program also sponsored four students this year so they could attend the HOSA Future Healthcare Professionals state leadership conference in April.

The program not only teaches the young students, but Indiana State University students are able to learn from the program through the intern program.

Recent Special Education/Elementary Education graduate Adam Waggoner helped with the program, as well as recent Health Administration graduate Hilari Howard.

Health Administration major Briana Pope also helped with the program.

Rose said AHEC coordinates programs for kindergarten through grade 12, and can tailor to a program suggestion by an instructor.

"The question is no longer, 'Are you going to college?' It is, 'Where are you going?'" Rose explained. "We do middle and high school programs to let students know early what they need to be doing now to prepare for a future career."

Educators interested in using the services provided by AHEC can contact Rose at janet.rose@indstate.edu.

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