The University of Kentucky Student Public Health Association (UKSPHA) volunteered at Mary Todd Elementary school in Lexington, KY this past October. Members of UKSPHA presented on the harmful effects of smoking, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and the importance of attending college. Students, grades pre-K through 5th, participated in the hands-on activities prepared for them by UKSPHA.
In one activity, students were asked to breathe normally and then through a straw; they were further asked to do 10 jumping jacks and then attempt to breathe through the same straw. After the activity, students were allowed to discuss the exercise and talk about what happens to an individual who smokes. The students at Mary Todd Elementary are extremely bright and mentioned “lung cancer, heart disease, gum disease, rotten teeth, and bad smell” as characteristics associated with smoking. Additionally, nutritional health, the benefit of exercising and good personal hygiene was covered during the discussions.
Alysha Lewis, UKSPHA Treasurer, said, “Volunteering at Mary Todd Elementary was a wonderful experience and it was truly a pleasure to see the amount of knowledge the students at Mary Todd Elementary had on the dangers of smoking and other healthy lifestyle choices.”
UKSPHA is a student-run organization and basic governing unit of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. UKSPHA’s role is to act as a liaison between students and faculty, promote student involvement to develop healthy communities, and represent the needs of students of the College of Public Health.