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Nursing Students Cook Up Ways to Help Combat Obesity

Lauren Orlando helping Gaby Sheppard, 8, to measure the right amount of flourFor the first time, health advocates have designated a specific month for national attention to pediatric obesity.  September was National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and three nurse practitioner students from Samuel Merritt University took it upon themselves to call attention to it.

Kacee Williams, Lauren Orlando, and Rumi Yokota, nurse practitioner students from the Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing (ELMNS) program, hosted 20 students from Glide Memorial Church, a non-profit serving the low-income community located in San Francisco, to a 'Healthy Living Day.'  The project was aimed at educating low-income kids between the ages of five to twelve about nutrition and health. 

The ELMNS students took the children to Sur La Table in downtown San Francisco and shared a meal that featured age-appropriate nutrition information.  Then the nursing students took the children to a park, Yerba Buena Gardens, for some outdoor games and activities.

"This project allowed us to work with pre-teens on how to care for themselves," said Kacee Williams, one of the ELMNS students.  "In the process, I'm learning a lot about how nurse practitioners can communicate with young patients in an effective manner."

Lauren Orlando said that teaching children to care for their health was good practice for their future careers.  "As nurses, we will always have to teach patients about improving their health," Orlando said.  "We can also pass on our critical thinking skills to the children."

Kacee Williams, Lauren Orlando, and Rumi Yokota with kids from Glide Memorial Church in SF

Canyon Steinzig, RN, PhD, assistant professor at the School of Nursing, said it is important for nursing students to hone their skills in non-hospital settings.  "This project allowed nursing students to work with kids in promoting community based education and preventive care," Steinzig said.  "It's our goal as nurses to promote a healthy lifestyle for people in their communities." 

"It was a great experience," added nursing student Rumi Yokota.  "Teaching the program was a good learning experience in working as a group, delegating tasks and communicating with multiple clients [kids] at once."

According to the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, effective communication is one of the keys to ending pediatric obesity.  National studies show one-third of American children are obese.  Health reports also show obesity-related conditions cost almost $150 billion annually.

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