Sixty preschoolers enrolled at Annandale Christian Community for Action’s (ACCA) Child Development Center visited the Medical Education Campus (MEC) on August 10 for a full day of interactive learning about nutrition, healthy eating habits and health care careers.
ACCA, a preschool center serving diverse and low-income families in the Northern Virginia area, partnered with the MEC to offer children, ages 3 to 5, a learning experience referred to as Health Education Day. The event was a first for MEC nursing student volunteers who facilitated the activities and earned pediatric clinical hours toward their graduation requirements. ACCA instructors and parent volunteers assisted while children participated in several activity stations related to hand-washing and healthy snack preparation, health care professions, exercise/active play and body tracing, creating a paper silhouette of each child. Each child learned how to properly brush their teeth, identify parts of the body and had the chance to dress up in costumes as nurses and doctors to gain insight into what it means to treat patients.
ACCA Child Development Center Executive Director Maria Isabel Ballivian said her organization partnered with NOVA’s Dual Generational Pathways to assist in the process of enhancing post-secondary educational attainment of low-income families and early childhood care providers.
The partnership has led to introducing college activities to children enrolled in the ACCA program through Pathways’ Crayons-to-College field trip initiative. For the past three years, Dual Generational Pathways has partnered with ACCA, Hopkins House and Northern Virginia Family Services Head Start preschool centers to offer day trips to NOVA campuses.
“Health Education Day was a wonderful way for the nursing students and faculty at the MEC to help our children become more comfortable with interacting with nurses in a medical environment,” Ballivian said. “It’s very inspirational for our children to visit an institution like the MEC. This experience will leave a lasting impression in their minds that could lead to them exploring what they want to be when they grow up.”
Laura Thomas, an ACCA parent said she was eager to attend Health Education Day with her 5- year-old daughter Zahra. As a 2008 NOVA graduate, Thomas attributed her success in becoming a registered nurse to the quality education she received while enrolled in the nursing program at the MEC.
“I thought this was an amazing opportunity for our children to learn more about what it means to work in health care,” Thomas said. “My daughter has always been fascinated with wanting to be a nurse when she grows up. Out of all the field trips I usually attend with my daughter, I was particularly excited to visit the MEC and show her where I went to school and earned my degree. NOVA has truly changed my life and I wanted to share this experience with her.”
For interest in becoming a community partner or additional information on NOVA’s Dual Generational Pathways initiative, visit their website.