OTTUMWA-The looks on the faces of Mrs. Burton’s 3rd grade students ranged from fascination to disgust, but there is no doubt Carla Thompson, RN from Ottumwa Regional Health Center has their full attention during her annual Heart Power presentation at Eisenhower School.
For over 15 years Carla and her team make the rounds to 3rd grade students in Ottumwa to educate them about the importance of a healthy heart and lifestyle. She begins by having the class join her in singing the “Heart Power” song where they cheer for healthy hearts and “stomping out” things that are bad for the heart, like smoking. The students are shown a diagram of the heart and talk about its structure, including how the heart delivers blood to our bodies.
Then the fun part begins. “I have a special surprise for you today!” Carla says, and a pig heart magically appears in her gloved hand. Squeals of “eewww, GROSS!” erupt as she holds it up high for better viewing.
“I brought you a pig heart to examine as it is the closest thing to a human heart”, she says. Disgust quickly becomes fascination as students put on gloves and are encouraged to touch and examine the chambers of the pig heart. “This pig was unhealthy and has a lot of fat around the heart”, Carla shares, pointing out the white layer surrounding it. “We need exercise and healthy eating habits so we don’t get that layer of fat around our hearts.” As the students examine the pig heart, there are lots of discussion and questions that Carla is happy to answer.
“I love this program as it not only educates children on the importance of good health, it also gives them some great exposure to anatomy and builds interest in the sciences,” says Carla. “3rd grade is a perfect age to introduce them to these concepts.”
Carla Thompson, RN, BSN is a nurse with the Healthy Choices Wellness Program at Ottumwa Regional Health Center. This program offers a line of services to companies to help their employees improve their health through screenings and provides education and coaching on healthy choices and lifestyles, but also provides educational programs such as Heart Power to the community at no cost.