The benefit of the Healthy Kids Outreach Program in Douglas County schools was the topic on the Talking Health radio interview recently on News Radio 1240 KQEN.
Host Lisa Platt interviewed Trina McClure Gwaltney, the HKOP manager, Erin Miller, a health resource connection nurse, Kathy Bates with OSU Extension SNAP Education, Jody Perkins, a dental hygienist, Kim Ball, dental services liaison for HKOP and Becca Wareham, the facilitator for the Dental Learning Lab for HKOP.
The following is an edited version of the Feb. 26 interview.
Lisa: Trina, can you tell us about the HKOP team?
Trina: In 2006 the board supported the start of the Healthy Kids Outreach Program, and their mission has been focused on changing our community’s culture from one of intervention to one of prevention.
The program initially had one nurse in a couple of pilot schools in rural districts around the Roseburg area to provide health awareness education and to help families navigate our health care system.
Since then, our programs have grown and now include dental services, nutrition and physical activity education in the classroom, and also violence prevention.
Lisa: Erin, tell us what a health resource connection nurse does?
Erin: I am an RN and I serve at six elementary schools, providing health education in the classroom, focusing on hygiene, colds and flu prevention, and healthy relationships.
The schools are also able to refer specific students to me to assess their health needs, and then assist the student and their family with finding resources as available.
Lisa: Erin, how do you collaborate with the Douglas ESD nurses?
Erin: We can do similar work, but we each have different roles within the schools. We share information and if they come across something that we would be able to help them with, they let us know.
Lisa: Is it true that the ESD nurses are working more with children who are medically fragile?
Trina: Yes, Healthy Kids role is geared around prevention education, family education and resource education. The ESD nurses are managing the day-to-day needs of kids in schools across the county who have chronic diseases like type-1 Diabetes, severe allergies and other illnesses that can be very serious.
Lisa: What are some of the impacts you’ve seen already this year at your schools?
Trina: This fall when we had more intensive nursing services within the schools we’ve seen improvement in attendance. We’ve also seen that the staff has relayed that they’re seeing improvements in kids making healthier choices within the classroom.
Lisa: Kathy Bates, what do you do at OSU Extension SNAP Education?
Kathy: My main role is to present nutrition education from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for K-5 students. The information I’m providing will hopefully help them make good choices in regards to food, hygiene and physical activity.
Our group of OSU SNAP educators also attend events that are put on by the Mercy Foundation and we’re getting pretty involved in the Blue Zones Umpqua, Mercy Medical Center and the YMCA. We offer food tastings and share recipes at multiple food pantries around the area, and then we’ve also held classes for DHS and UCAN Head Start.
Lisa: Tell me about the Kids-in-the-Kitchen program?
Erin: It’s an after school program, typically for upper-aged elementary students or middle school aged students. It’s a great opportunity for students to get some hands-on experience learning cooking skills and nutrition, and we use those healthy recipes from foodhero.com.
Trina: Kids in the Kitchen started as a pilot because that age group can be kind of tough within junior high schedules to get into nutrition classes. We also knew we wanted kids that were interested and also a way they could make a bigger impact by taking what they learn home to their parents.
Lisa: Kathy, would you tell us about the blender bike?
Kathy: It’s set up like a stationary bike and on the front part of the bike there is an attachment where you can attach a blender that’s powered by pedaling. We’ve had students, even a few adults, grind grain to take home to make scones, and we’ve also had them do smoothies so that blender got a lot of use.
Trina: We’re using healthy recipes, even sneaking veggies into a smoothie, and we’ve been able to provide parents tips for getting more fruits and vegetables into their kiddos and making it fun.
Lisa: Would you talk about dental program?
Trina: Thge dental program provides services for all of the school districts in Douglas County. We are concentrated on elementary and middle school and we do work with other community members to help them extend the services they provide for some of the higher grades so the kids have a dental home.
Lisa: How did the dental program start?
Jody: We started the dental initiative in 2011 because the nurses in schools found that there were prominent dental issues in the classrooms. Students were complaining about being at school in dental pain and we set out to provide a solution to this issues.
We had great funding through the Oregon Community Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation that helped get us started. We started with the dental sealant program and then 2013 expanded adding the education component to the learning lab.
Lisa: Kim, what’s unique about this program compared to other programs and tell me more about the connection to care-piece?
Kim: What kind of sets us apart is the fact that HKOP even has a dental service liaison to help parents get the kids connected to a dental home.
I work directly with the schools and start off with scheduling our mobile school based prevention dental clinics to go to the schools around Douglas County and we do that twice a year. We also schedule the Dental Learning Lab educational services to those schools once a year.
Lisa: Becca, can you tell us about the Dental Learning Lab?
Becca: It’s a comprehensive, interactive, hands-on lab that teaches good oral hygiene, eases the stress and anxiety that can accompany a visit to a dental provider for the first time and empower students to make healthy dental choices.
The dental lab is set up with different activities that students cycle through, and each station focuses on a different oral health topic, such as flossing, fluoride, and visiting a dentist’s office. The kids cycle through until they’ve been to each station.
Lisa: Is it true that about 7,500 to 10,000 students run through your Dental Learning Lab annually?
Becca: It is. We believe we see most of the kids in Douglas County.