My First Service Learning Course at Purdue

This semester I am enrolled in my first service learning course at Purdue. According to the Purdue website, service learning is “a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” All seniors in the nursing program are required to take Leadership in Nursing which is part of the service learning program. At the beginning of the semester we were assigned a project based on our interests. The Graduate Student Child Wellness Day was the project I was assigned to.  We were in charge of identifying a need in our community, specifically at in the graduate student population, and evaluating ways to fulfill that need. 

The Graduate Student Child Wellness Day is a bi-annual event that services graduate students and their families by providing physical examinations, hearing and vision screenings, vaccines, and education to the children. We decided on providing nutritional information to the graduate students and their children via a booth at the Graduate Student Child Wellness Day.  Many of graduate students are international students that do not have a primary healthcare provider due to lack of insurance and transportation. Without access to a primary healthcare provider, many of these parents lack accurate information on nutritional requirements for their children.

In order to fund our project we wrote a grant including an itemized budget. We received a little over half of the funds we requested in the grant. After re-prioritizing our needs based on the grant money we received, we bought supplies for a tri-fold board to display our information as well as supplies for the children’s treat bags. In the treat bags we included handouts for the parents about eating better on a budget, vegetarian tips and choosing healthy beverages. Healthy snacks for the children and fruit and vegetable shaped stress balls were also included. To keep the children entertained and involved in the learning experience, we had a station where the children could make their own healthy plate with plastic food. There was also a coloring station and face painting to keep the children occupied while they waited of their physical examinations. Our booth also included a visual display of the amount of sugar in various beverages. This information was very surprising to the parents. 

Overall the project was a huge success. All of the planning and hard work paid off during the Graduate Student Child Wellness Day. I really felt like I was able to use my nursing education to make a difference in the community. I had a lot of fun interacting with the children and they really enjoying being able to make their own “healthy plates.” It was also fun to dress up for the event, since it was so close to Halloween. My leadership and  communication skills improved as a result of working with nutrition students who helped at the event, my classmates, and our faculty preceptor and community partner.

— Stephanie Westfall, Nursing

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