By Stephanie Creech | Times Managing Editor
Second-graders at Wells Elementary School are leading a campaign to help children in Guatemala with basic health and hygiene needs.
The students are collaborating with Deby Tyndall, a nursing professor at East Carolina University, in collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, washcloths and eight-pack crayons that nursing students will distribute while holding health talks or charlas with children in the rural villages of San Miguel Duenos, San Pedro de las Huertas and Vuelta Grande.
This is the seventh year nursing students have visited Guatemala. Tyndall and the students leave May 15 for three weeks. Tyndall said ECU’s College of Nursing established this cultural immersion course in 2008.
She’s traveling with 14 students, 13 who are studying nursing and one who is a women’s studies major. The course is offered every summer.
Last week, a group of 13 second-graders recorded the third of three commercials encouraging their fellow schoolmates to donate items for the project. The commercials will start airing on the Beaver News Network, which is the school’s news program. The first commercial focuses on Guatemala and living conditions there. The second commercial focuses on how the students can help. The third commercial focuses on why the help is needed.
Angie Walston, one of the second teachers, got the effort at Wells moving. She turned to Michelle Newton, AIG teacher, and Suzanne Stott, IT specialist, for help with making the commercials.
In addition to the persuasive videos, students in second grade have made posters promoting the project and they’ve written persuasive speeches. The posters are posted in the school’s hallways. In art class, students have painted the bags the items will be placed into when they’re distributed.
The collection will continue through the first week of March, according to Walston.
Walston said she hopes the students will sense that there are more things more important than “me, me, me” and that they will learn compassion for someone else. Plus, there’s the added benefit of the students learning that children living elsewhere do not always have items we take for granted. Walston said it helps the students look beyond Wilson. As far as school, this project meets the learning objectives of creating global awareness.
“Kids there, they need stuff,” said 8-year-old Hatten Gore.
Hatten talked about how people in Guatemala wash their clothes in pond water because they do not have washing machines. Hatten has also learned how people in Guatemala generally do not eat meat.
“We’re trying to help people,” Hatten said.
“Imagine if you didn’t have stuff,” added classmate Ainsley Cato.
Earlier this school year, Tyndall visited Wells and talked with students about why their help is needed. Tyndall’s nephew, Brady, is a student in Walston’s class.
“Yes, Brady motivated me to partner with Wells,” Tyndall said. “Mrs. Walston was excited about the possibility of collaborating with ECU College of Nursing and she has been instrumental in getting the second-graders to lead the project.”
Tyndall explained that their community contacts vary and in the past nursing students have received donations from the ECU College of Nursing, churches, schools, hospitals and various health care professionals within the community. Students have also donated specific items that have been requested by the Guatemalan agencies the group works with such as gloves, hospital shoe covers and hand sanitizer.
“I chose to partner with Wells because I think it is valuable to teach children early on about their relationship with the world,” Tyndall said. “Teaching children about global health issues will help prepare them as future citizens within a global community.”
Tyndall said she will return to Wells in the fall to share stories and photos of the children they visit in Guatemala with the students here. “I hope that sharing these outcomes with the students will help them see how even the smallest of things, like toothpaste and toothbrushes, can make a difference,” Tyndall said.
In terms of what she hopes the college students gain, Tyndall said, “I hope the nursing students see the value of educating our youth about global health issues and the importance of being stewards of community engagement and service.”
Community members interested in helping with the project can leave their donations at the office at Wells Elementary now through the first week of March.
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