Although the YMCA’s Kid Zone PLUS programs have had to adapt this fall in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis, providing valuable learning experiences for children remains at the forefront of the Y’s mission. That is why the Smith Family YMCA is excited to partner with Lewis University for a series of health and wellness presentations designed to teach children in Kid Zone PLUS about the importance of healthy living.
In all, more than 60 students in Lewis University’s nursing undergraduate program will be on-hand during the fall semester to lead nine weeks of interactive sessions at the Y. Themes for the presentations will feature a wide range of topics, including resiliency, self-esteem, personal hygiene, and safety tips, among others.
“These are first semester juniors in our Health Promotion Across a Lifespan class,” Assistant Professor of Nursing and Health Professionals and Director of Clinical Partnership Jane Trainor said. “It really is a win-win because it fits in with the course objectives and the mission of the university. It gives the nursing students an opportunity to connect with kids and hopefully the kids learn something new each visit.”
“Our Kid Zone PLUS program is focused on developing well-rounded kids that have an understanding of what it means to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Greater Joliet Area YMCA Youth Development Operations Director Erin Lightbody said. “It’s important that these sessions not only cover nutrition and tips for physical health, but also how to identify and manage emotional health.”
Trainor said the presentations offer a two-way street of educational value, as communicating these topics provides the nursing students with invaluable field experience.
“A big part of a nurse’s role in the community is being an educator, trying to make sure patients get information correctly. This is a great beginning level to help get that message out. They also get hands-on experience and research into the developmental stages of kids,” she said.
Lewis junior Cindy Rubio said that being able to help in the real world has been refreshing after a spring semester that was altered by the COVID-19 health crisis.
“We’ve been doing most of our learning from the books and online so it feels good to finally be able to go out and help people. To do what nurses do and get experience,” Rubio said.
Trainor also said the activities have strengthened the partnership between Lewis University and the Y.
“We have been so appreciative to use this space because the students didn’t get the same opportunities that we normally would have had available to them, whether it was at the hospital or anywhere else. For the Y to give us this opportunity is just fantastic,” she said.