May 30, 2008

VUSN students serve up nutrition tips

Featured Image

VUSN student Jannyse Starks, second from right, reads to, from left, Jabaz Simpson, Petra Minassie and Kennedy Gray from a child-friendly nutrition book donated to Park Avenue Elementary School. (photo by Anne Rayner)

VUSN students serve up nutrition tips

More than 350 Metro Nashville Elementary School students are eating healthier thanks to the involvement of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing students.

A group of pre-specialty nursing students visited classrooms this spring to educate pre-K through fourth grade students at Park Avenue Enhanced Option School about safety, hygiene and nutrition.

“The students have been instrumental in providing important lessons to our children,” said Principal Deltina Braden. “They have been a tremendous resource.”

Eighty-nine percent of the students at the West Nashville school qualify for free or reduced meals.

“The kids were really receptive to us,” said Karen Branch, a family nurse practitioner student.

“They would see us in the halls and say 'Hi Vanderbilt nurses.'”

The Vanderbilt students sent letters home to parents, conducted Body Mass Index assessments on every child and followed up with several different lessons about healthy lifestyles. As a parting gift, they presented the school with child-friendly nutrition books.

“It was interesting that many of the kids didn't want to get weighed because they knew they were overweight,” said Priya Champaneria, a pediatric nurse practitioner student. “We talked about basics — things we adults take for granted — but kids don't know.”

Funded through a patchwork of grants, VUSN was able to re-open the in-school clinic that is a main source of health care for many of the Park Avenue students. VUSN is contracted by Metro Schools to provide services in school clinics at Stratton Elementary, Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option Elementary and Park Avenue.

Marie Phillips, R.N., runs the clinic, sees patients and helps coordinate with the Vanderbilt students.

“Nurse Marie is part of our family,” said Braden, the school's principal. “We have a lot of special needs kids, and no matter why they end up in our clinic, they come out with a smile. Marie is an angel.”