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April 8, 2002

Calvin To Host Health Fair

A Health Fair at the end of April will mark the culmination of a semester-long collaboration between the Creston Neighborhood Association and the Hope-Calvin Nursing Program.

On April 27 students from the nursing program will run a Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Palmer Elementary School (309 Palmer NE) in Grand Rapids. The purpose of the fair is to promote health awareness and injury prevention and safety strategies in the community. Included will be such things as free blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screening for adults, while for kids a multitude of activities will be available, including Freddie the Talking Fire Truck, an obstacle course and face painting.

In addition, thanks to a partnership with the Safe Kids Coalition the Health Fair will give out 100 bike helmets to area youngsters. In fact, the Calvin and Hope students had a two-hour training session on April 2 at Mary Free Bed Hospital to learn how to properly fit helmets.

"For the Health of It" is one of the highlights of a collaborative effort between the CNA and the Hope-Calvin Nursing Program. During the semester students in the program spend two full days a week working in the neighborhood, fulfilling their senior year "clinical study." Working with Catherine's Care Center (whose mission is to improve the health of Creston and Belknap area residents through motivation, screening, education and referrals and by acting as a gateway to primary health care services) the students do home visits in the neighborhood, immunizations at Creston and Central high schools, health screenings in a local senior citizens apartment building and more.

Calvin professor Barb Timmermans says the five-year-old partnership gives students a good taste of what it means to be a nurse in a community and to focus on neighborhood needs. And she says when Calvin has its own nursing program (the Hope-Calvin program is being phased out so that each school can have its own program) the plan is to work even more closely in the neighborhood since community-based nursing will be a strong focus for the new Calvin program. While Calvin nursing students will still spend plenty of time in acute care settings such as hospitals, they also will be spending time in places such as factories, schools and malls. That's because a big part of the Calvin curriculum will be on health promotion and protection, serving people before they become ill. Calvin professors know that this is a significant trend in healthcare circles and they want the Calvin curriculum to be able to provide for that need.

"If we're going to serve people as nurses we need to be where the people are," says Calvin professor Cheryl Feenstra. "We're going to be asking our students 'where are the people.' If we're talking about young moms and their kids, the answer might be 'at the mall.' So we'll go to the mall and set up information displays by the play area. We'll work with the schools to do health screenings. And we'll work with the neighborhood associations to meet the needs of the underserved."

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)