Over the month of February, pharmacy student volunteers from the Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences spent a few hours each Saturday at the Mobius Discovery Center teaching children and families in the Spokane community about health and wellness. The activities were arranged by Spokane chapters of the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) and Kappa Psi (a professional fraternity).
Olivia Hiskey, class of 2023, served as the primary organizer and communicator between the college and Mobius, and helped organize the supplies and volunteers needed to successfully host the activities each week. Hiskey shares her experience and why she believes community outreach is important.
Tell us a little bit about the Mobius Health + Wellness events:
Our goal was to expand health and wellness education to Spokane youth through interactive and informative activities at Mobius. We had a different health and wellness focus each week including blood sugar, hand hygiene, vital signs, the heart and lungs, and all about blood. Each Saturday in February, volunteers from APhA-ASP and Kappa Psi hosted and assisted with these activities for the patrons of Mobius. Overall, we have been able to reach over 150 children with these events! Our hope is that the kids who participated came away with a bit more knowledge about the theme for the week and potentially a sparked interest in health and wellness!
Why do you think it’s important for student pharmacists to volunteer in community events?
I think community outreach is crucial for us as student pharmacists and as a college. It is important to engage in our community’s health and wellness and improve our community’s health through our education and outreach. By exposing ourselves to our community, we can pass on our health knowledge to members as well as identify additional areas of community health we can improve and become involved with.
What did you do while volunteering at the Mobius Health + Wellness events?
During the events, volunteers hosted and assisted with activities coordinated by APhA-ASP leadership. The volunteers would engage the kids in the activities while educating the participants on the topic of the week.
What was your favorite thing about volunteering at Mobius?
My favorite thing about volunteering at Mobius was seeing the kids excited and engaged in our activities! Witnessing that “ah-ha” moment on the children’s faces and knowing that they learned something from us was extremely rewarding. Also, being able to see kids get excited about our activities and interested in our health and wellness topics helped us to know we were inspiring the next generation of health care professionals!
What were the different activities children and families could try?
We had quite the variety of activities each week! Children and families learned about blood sugar and healthy eating through making their own healthy plate activity and playing “pin the pancreas on the body.” Kids and families learned about hand hygiene and how germs spread through our glow germ powder activity in which kids could check their hand washing technique after having powder that only glowed under a flashlight brushed on their hands. In another activity, they learned about the heart and lungs through interactive heart pumping models, lung models, and even made their own stethoscopes! They also learned about blood components and blood types through a sensory tub activity and a blood typing activity showing which blood types could mix and which could not.
Why do you believe it is important to teach children about wellness in a way they can easily understand?
I think it is extremely important to engage children in learning about health and wellness because the more we can educate our community at all ages, the better chance we have at improving public health. Education is the first step in making a conscious change in our choices and even at a young age, these children can receive information that impacts how they view their health. It is an amazing way to spark interest in health and wellness with these kids, and hopefully inspire them to engage their curiosity and learn more if they wish.
Anything else you want to add?
We had such an amazing time, and our goal is to continue this collaboration year after year!
Hiskey also took over the college Instagram page on February 12 to give a behind the scenes look at the events.