By Annette O’Hern, HSA Director
Transformation is the word that comes to mind on this trip. Right before my very eyes, I am seeing the transformation of nine great Health Science Academy students into nine exceptional teachers. Yes, teachers. Yesterday and today these students were given minimal instruction and charged to deliver interactive, exciting stations in First Aid and CPR to Lakota youth (students they have never met). And boy did they exceed!
I stood back, got out of their way, and they transformed into what some would say, seasoned professionals. These students adjusted their presentations to the appropriate age levels. Yesterday we started with Pre-K youth and ended the day with 8th graders at Wounded Knee School. Our students engaged over 140 youth with important topics about what to do until help arrives.
Today (waking up to a blizzard!), these students transformed into CPR trainers instructing 198 high schoolers at Little Wound School in Kyle. The Academy students met every group with excitement, enthusiasm and engaged each youth to learn these important skills.
I am beyond proud of these nine Academy students. They transformed from High School Academy students into young healthcare professionals. I can’t wait to see them in action again tomorrow!
By Phoebe Breed
The Head Start team had a record breaking day today! Our team of seven provided physicals for 84 children enrolled in the Head Start preschool program in a little over eight hours. Meeting these young kids, their Head Start teachers, and in some cases, their parents, provided a refreshing perspective to life on the reservation. These children are happy! They’re also scared to “go to the doctor” and we were asked several times “are we getting shots today?”. Sounds a lot like the kids I’ve seen at Gundersen Pediatric appointments.
Unlike many of the kids at Gundersen, these kids had some serious health needs – dentistry. I have terrible teeth! I’m pretty sure all of my molars have fillings and I wish my teeth were straight, but when you look at me while I’m talking, you wouldn’t guess it. My fillings and crown blend in. I work hard to brush well and even go on flossing streaks now and again (usually one to two weeks before my dentist appointment so my gums won’t bleed and I’ll look like a model patient!). However, many of these kids have missing front teeth earlier than normal and their molars have silver caps on them. Many of them had obvious cavities that needed attention, and my hand got tired from writing instructions about seeking “routine dental care”. All of a sudden, my terrible teeth looked pretty good and I’m 10 times more aware of the blessing that my dental care has been.
One child’s mom was with her and when I encouraged her to go to the dentist, she told me they had an appointment to have dental work done under anesthesia. However, when it came time for her appointment, her daughter had a respiratory infection and was wheezing, so they postponed it until she was well. They came back when they had rescheduled the procedure, but the dentist wasn’t there. So once again, she didn’t get the procedure done. I am thankful my dentist is at their office when I have an appointment. I am thankful I don’t have to travel hours to get to my dentist. I am thankful for my smile.
And I am thankful for the smiles of the 84 children we saw today. Their smiles, laughter, curiosity, and joy were infectious, and bring hope for the future.
By Lori Hetue
Here we are for another day with a group at Pine Ridge. We left this morning at 8:10 a.m. and headed for Little Wound School. Our duties today consisted of physicals, a First Aid fair and CPR training for the high school kids. Steve, Peg, Phoebe, Marcia and Nancy did the physicals in a small building behind the school. Out of 600 kids, they were only able to do nine due to a lack of communication and kids didn’t have their permission slips signed. As for the rest of us, Lori. Annette, Connie, Tricia, Joanne and Lori, we spent the day with the Health Science Academy (HSA) students and worked the Health Science fair and CPR training. Let me tell you, these students from the HSA are incredible students. They bring with them a wealth of knowledge and their interaction with the students at Little Wound is phenomenal.
I feel very lucky to know these fine young people who will be our future leaders. It was fun to see the students learn the different things so well. They were all very good students and eager to learn. It was comical, though, as some of the students would giggle and were apprehensive about holding the baby mannequin. Everyone was so appreciative. We will join everyone tonight for a taco dinner and call it an early evening as tomorrow is another busy day of physicals and education.