Students educate children on importance of holistic health

Chloe Chapel

Knowing how to properly brush our teeth, exercise and wash our hands are skills that are often taken for granted. They are so ingrained in many people’s routine that they don’t even think about how important these tasks are. 

According to a study by Meritech, only 43% of children wash their hands frequently enough. And one in three children aren’t brushing their teeth frequently enough, according to a poll by Royal Children’s Hospital. 

Not brushing your teeth or washing your hands enough can impact children in a variety of ways. 

In an effort to educate children about holistic health, the Children’s Coalition partnered with organizations in the School of Health Sciences and nonprofits throughout the community. 

Some of the organizations from ULM included NSSLHA, Medical Laboratory Sciences and the Dental Hygiene program. 

Medical Laboratory Sciences demonstrated how to wash your hands with a fun experiment. 

Zoe Coleman, a senior medical laboratory science major, said they had children put fluorescent lotion all over their hands—this represented germs. They then had them look at the “germs” under a fluorescent light. Then, it was time to wash their hands. Once they finished washing their hands, they put them back under the light to check for remaining lotion. 

If there was a lot of lotion left, then they needed to wash their hands better. 

After the experiment, students taught the children how long to wash their hands, the best ways to get the most germs off and the benefits of washing your hands. 

“[Children] are always touching their mouths and a lot of weird things, and they spread germs quickly, so hand washing is important,” Coleman said. 

Dental hygiene students also took the route of learning through having fun. 

They had children play cornhole with foods that were good and bad for your teeth. 

Shelby Rehms, a senior dental hygiene student, said there is more to oral health than just brushing your teeth. For example, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it’s good for your teeth. Some children might not know that, so they wanted to teach them about oral health in an interactive way. 

“Oral health is something that isn’t as widely known compared to something like systemic health,” Rehms said. “People will [say] ‘oh it’s just my mouth’ but it’s super important because your oral health ties into your systemic health.” 

The event helped children learn about how to take care of their systemic health by teaching them the correct way to do their everyday tasks. 

Dawn Landry, the development director at the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, said the event is also a way to highlight the Children’s Coalition’s garden, which acts as a day-to-day way for children to learn about healthy living. 

“We started [the garden] as a way to promote our healthy living program,” Landry said. “We want it to spark an interest for people to take home and families to say ‘Wow we can be self-productive.’”