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HSC, Texas A&M-CC partner to educate local Head Start students

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — Books, videos and writing assignments are standard ways to teach students. But how about jumping jacks, games and healthy snacks?
Brandi Knight, a nursing student in the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences, works with a Head Start child at South Knoll Elementary School in College Station on March 31 as part of a partnership with the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

That’s just what about 20 children in the Head Start program at South Knoll Elementary School in College Station did March 31, with 10 nursing students in the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences serving as teachers. Through a partnership with the Texas A&M Health Science Center for the first time in the Bryan-College Station area, students are locally pursuing their BSN to help address the shortage of nurses. The morning visit was the students’ teaching project as part of their required pediatric experience.

There are 20 nursing students in the Texas A&M-CC program, and the other 10 will work with children at a later date, said Benny Holland, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.H., facilities coordinator with the Health Science Center Health Profession Education Center.

Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs that serve children from birth to age 5, pregnant women and their families. They are child-focused programs and have the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families.

“This project is just a small but important part of the 90 hours the nursing students put in during the clinical pediatric rotation,” said Cathy Hansen, M.S.N., R.N., visiting assistant professor for Texas A&M-CC. “This gives them a chance to prepare and experience a session of teaching children on ways to prevent obesity. They are working in terms of exercise, nutrition, healthy snacks and sleep, facilitating small group interaction that is hands on for the children. The Head Start children we work with are eager to learn and participate, and they are very welcoming to nursing students.”

The South Knoll Elementary School Head Start has about 20 children, including three displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, said teacher Jayne Jenkins.

During the visit, the nursing students showed the children the benefits of nutrition, exercise and sleep in an effort to decrease the current rise in childhood obesity. Five stations were established, with groups of children rotating about every 15 minutes.

“Most of our children have not had the experiences other children have had,” Jenkins said. “Any new experience, such as this project, that gives them another tool to learn is very important, and we try to expose them to everything we can. And, it’s so nice being next to Texas A&M because they give us a lot of help and support.”

And what did the kids think of the nursing students’ visit?

“It was great, and I had a lot of fun,” said 5-year-old Joey Gordon. “I learned all about healthy snacks.”

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach, and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health..

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