Stage is set to teach elementary students how many kids are ‘too sick for school’
Nursing students from UBC’s Okanagan campus are spending their reading week at the Global School House, an annual event that helps local Grade 6 students experience a day in a poor international village.
At the Global Schoolhouse, local organizations engage the students through interactive presentations that simulate life in a low-income country. The visiting Grade 6 students, who will walk through the mock village, will learn about issues of health, child labour, gender inequality, and the lack of resources in many countries—all of which create barriers to education.
Some 30 UBC nursing students will be dressed in costumes and act in character as villagers, village leaders, and medical professionals. Before the Grade 6 students go through the village, each child is given a resource card that represents the country in which they live and any disease they may have.
As they walk through the village, they will witness the UBC student volunteers act out real-life scenarios including malnutrition, and the effects of drinking dirty water. The children’s cards are updated with points and at end of the walk they learn if they have too many points and are ‘too sick to go to school.’
“This event is a great opportunity for UBC Okanagan’s nursing students to get into the community to create global health awareness,” says fourth-year student Rebekah Chase. “I am so excited to be participating in this event and I look forward to seeing the change it will create among the young leaders in our community.”
Chase is a member of the UBC Okanagan Global Nursing Citizens Club. Chase and club president Mark Cianfagna have been organizing and reading through the scripts that will be used for their performances. While they are nursing students first and actors second, Chase says she is excited to see the reaction of the young students.
“I know that some of these children will be very moved and motivated to create change,” says Chase.
This is the first year the UBC nursing students have been involved with the Global School House. Cianfagna says engaging with the community is something the club has strived to do for a long time.
“Making these connections allows us to expand our global health awareness and develop relationships which are key to promoting our projects overseas,” says Cianfagna. “We are excited to participate in this opportunity and educate young minds who can make a true difference in our world.”
Jeanette Vinek, senior instructor with the School of Nursing, says global health is an important part of the nursing curriculum and the student club takes those lessons outside the classroom.
“The Global Nursing Citizens group is doing great work in our community,” says Vinek. “This student-run club is having an impact on global health, locally as well as internationally. They are leaders in our nursing program and we are so proud of the work they are doing.”
This spring, Chase along with other fourth-year nursing students will travel to Zambia where they will work in a variety of clinical settings, including medical and surgical units, pediatrics and maternity, HIV clinics and community health outreach in remote villages.
“I am passionate about the work we are doing over in Zambia and am proud to be finishing my nursing degree this way,” says Chase. “I look forward to gaining a better understanding first-hand how the social determinants of health impact an individual—we learn about it but I don’t think we really will understand it until we see it.”