OHSU nurses are working on projects at D9 middle schools

OHSU nursing students are tackling the obesity problem in a positive, pro active way. Armed with the belief that hands-on involvement is a better teacher than a lecture, the students have been working with students from White Mountain Middle School to develop a garden.

What better way to talk about vegetables than to have a hand in growing them? And how better to try them than to taste the fruits of your labor?

Students and nurses have a 50×30 ft. plot they have been developing. As the project began, there were about 30 students involved, learning about landscaping and gardening. Organic seeds were anonymously donated to Janine Nodine’s science classroom. Students planted them inside waiting for improved weather and for the garden to be prepared.

Step one in the gardening process was to learn about soil and its preparation. Next came decisions about items to plant and their nutritional value. Students also learned the plants could be raised at home in very little space.

What has been termed a “water watch” over the summer to be sure the vegetables are taken care of. Two key players in the “water watch” will be Emma Gonzalez and Phil Ortega.

The Pacific Crest Regional Chapter American Association of Critical Care Nurses  supplied the bulk of the startup funds. Other major contributors include Biomass for a generous discount for the soil, and Edrel Jaime, Twedell’s Towing & Automotive for donating equipment and service to level the land.  One other nurse, who is about to graduate, and has been involved in planning the garden, is Brian Marlia-Larsen. 

Nurses Emma Gonzalez, who has a child in School District 9, and Jennifer Thomson are overseeing the garden project and following up on testing done last year. Parents of students who were in the 95th percentile for blood pressure and BMI (body mass index) were sent letters clarify the meaning of the testing and to remind families of the need to have a doctor for the children. Those not having a medical home are reminded that the White City Community Health Center can be of assistance.

WMMS is not the only District 9 school receiving assistance from the nurses. Loreina Albertson and Janice Jones are working with students at Eagle Point Middle school. Their project is a 50-mile club. Participating parents and students will receive a pedometer and at the end of the project, there will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes for all three grades. Figaro’s will donate pizzas for the party. There were funds left from Wal-Mart’s donation last year to help with this year’s pedometer expenses.

These students will be re-tested in the fall.

Students in Shady Cove are participating in clearing land and making a trail on District 9’s 40 acres above the Shady Cove schools. Parents and community members will be joining in on this project. The student nurse is Allan Barnes. Volunteers are needed on this project. To help, or for more information, or to donate, call Shady Cove Principal Tiffany O’Donnell 541-830-6238 or Ronda Rhodes 541-830-6219.

Heather Voss oversees the nursing program for Oregon Health Sciences University. Each of these projects as well as monitoring the health of the middle school children will be reviewed again this fall.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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