In front of a classroom of about 20 fifth and sixth-grade students, Ashley Neumann asks about over-the-counter medications. Do the kids know what those are?
Answers are shouted out: "Pepto-bismol!" "Cough drops!"
Neumann, a third-year student in the College of Pharmacy, is taking part in an educational outreach project by the SHARING Clinics. The project, a brainchild of SHARING's Youth Outreach Committee, sends UNMC students to Jackson Elementary School once a month to speak with the children and present activities on health-related topics. Today, Neumann is drawing on her pharmacy education to discuss medication and safety.
"When we came up with the idea, we wanted to get all of the colleges involved based on different topics that they would be presenting," said Tom Marston, one of the project's initiators.
Neumann's presentation is the third one the group has put on. Student Rashelle Smith gave a nutrition lesson that involved measuring the amount of sugar in certain popular snack foods. For a presentation on hand hygiene, the students hands were covered in glitter, which is hard to remove with water alone, but much easier with water and soap.
The educators at Jackson Elementary applauded the UNMC student's efforts.
"They're really good. They're very interactive," said Isai Peralta, who runs the Completely Kids afterschool program at Jackson Elementary. "The kids are enjoying it."
Instructor Tyler Erb agreed.
"This is good stuff for the kids to know," he said. "Some of it, I didn't even know."
Presenting to young people involves a learning curve, the UNMC students said.
"The first time was definitely difficult, because it's hard to keep their attention focused on what you are saying," Neumann said. "They like to shout things out, so you have to calm them down. I think it's easier if we do more hands-on things."
The toughest part, Marston said, is crafting a presentation that is both educational and interesting -- "not so heavy," he said. "We're trying with all of our activities to increase the hands-on stuff to get the message across," Neumann added. "It's really helped."
Right now, Marston said, the plan is to keep the project rolling through May, and then consider continuing for the next school year. The group is even archiving presentations to create permanent "lesson plans."
"It's good to get this information to the students, but I really feel that we benefit from this project as well," Neumann said
very worthwhile endeavor!