Community Health Students Help With Kindergarten Readiness

Photo by Anne Rayner.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing students, working in partnership with the Martha O’Bryan Center, United Neighborhood Health Services (UNHS) and Kirkpatrick Elementary School, developed a pilot project to increase awareness and improve access for children in the Cayce Place community who need to register for kindergarten.
The Kindergarten Kick-Off Health Fair, held this summer, was developed by VUSN community health students to provide necessary services such as immunizations and physical exams through community partners like UNHS and Main Street Clinic, thereby preparing the children for a positive learning experience for the start of the Metro Nashville Public School year.

Kindergarten-age children living in the Cayce Place neighborhood received necessary physical exams, immunizations and dental screenings and learned about nutrition, bedtime routines, dental health and school uniform requirements. They left with free items such as books, school supplies and a matching standard school attire outfit. Some even met their teachers.

Rising kindergartener Jariah Hendricks visited every information booth testing her kindergarten readiness. She was happy to see that practicing her ABCs would be put to good use come August.

“She’s excited about this school year, and I am too,” said her mother, Jameshia Hendricks.

The Kindergarten Kick-Off Health Fair was developed by VUSN students as part of their community health education during their pre-specialty, pre-master’s year. The nursing students have been working with families and the community through the Martha O’Bryan Center. The project grew from an identified need, and may be repeated in years to come.

“It’s easy to take things in life for granted,” said Tyler Halvaksz, a VUSN pre-specialty student. “This was a valuable and very eye-opening experience.”

Aggie Read, MSN, RN, instructor in Nursing, said the program helped students learn about identifying a need, working with community partners and developing and implementing a worthy project.

“Beyond that, it has been an incredibly gratifying opportunity for all of us to know that we have truly made a difference in the lives of some very special children and families.”