Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kids Are Great

So earlier today I skipped all my classes. But I had a good and valid reason to do so!

Along with Michelle, I went to a high school in a nearby city to give an obesity presentation to a health class of 10th graders. They had just started the nutrition unit, so our timing was perfect.

We arrived earlier than we thought, and we just talked with the teacher a bit in her prep hour. She's a HUGE health nut (which is great, since she teaches health). She talked about how she ran a marathon over the weekend, and about the perceptions her students have on diet and exercise and weight loss, and how doctors barely talk about nutrition (which is totally true - medical education SUCKS in that regard) and ways to prevent chronic illnesses. She remarked how she saw a major article a month or so ago on cancer and they had all these doctors talk about treatments, and interventions, and all that. But not once was prevention mentioned in the article and how nutrition and lifestyle factors into cancer risk.

Then the 10th graders started to filter in. Wow, I totally forgot how young they are. o_O I mean, was it really that long ago that I was sitting in a similar class? Beforehand the teacher told us how this class was a class full of kids who're in the honors/AP track and all really intelligent. That definitely made our work easier. We had a great time with them and they were really responsive and interactive. I loved seeing the wheels in their heads turn as we asked open-ended questions. What REALLY surprised me was, when we asked "How many of you know someone with diabetes?" they all rose their hands. Wow, back in my day (I can't believe I just typed this), I knew of maybe 1-2 people with diabetes.

We actually finished the presentation 5-7 minutes early, so we just opened it up to any questions they had. One kid asked me, "So what do you want to do after med school?" I looked at Michelle and was like, "Uh . . . become a doctor?" He continued with, "Do you want to keep doing stuff like this? Coming into classrooms and teaching about health?" That surprised me a little. And you know what, I responded with how I would actually love to do this a couple times a year as a doctor and really teach/engage kids in healthy lifestyles. I then told them really briefly about how I taught undergrad genetics for a semester - I think some of their eyes bulged out of their orbits at that, lol. Yeah, overall a great bunch of kids.

As they left, Michelle and I prepped to give the next presentation, which was the hour immediately after. This next class couldn't have been more different. This was a class of special ed students - some who were autistic, some with Down's syndrome - all with some degree of mental retardation. There were 3 aides in the room to help them, which was good.

We altered how we presented the material and took more time to explain things, simplify things, and just go at a slower pace for them. For the most part I think almost all of them were able to grasp what we were telling them. And collectively it was great watching their wheels turn in a different way from the previous class. Some of the kids weren't able to speak, and some were quite vocal. I was personally impressed with how well they grasped what we were presenting and how well they were able to answer our questions.

At the very end of class, this one kid got up and walked over to me. I had no idea what he was saying - he had both Down's syndrome and was severely autistic. But he came over to me after the presentation was done and took out his wallet, and for some reason, showed me the one dollar he had in there. And this other kid was telling me what he was going to do for his "30 day challenge" activity that we encouraged them to do.

I really do enjoy working with kids - they're great! ^_^ It's funny how they're simultaneously smarter than what we give them credit for, and exactly what we would expect of them. But overall, I think kids have a great capacity to really grasp health info if it's presented in an age-appropriate manner.

Btw, about 25 million kids in the US are overweight. That's 1 in 3 kids. Is anyone surprised?

It seems the blogosphere has been having a really down time lately. I hope James is feeling better and getting out of his funk. And I hope Fer is finding ways to get enough sleep and coping with all the busy-ness in his life.

And I've had the opportunity lately to chat with a great guy, Dave83201. I know you've been really stressed out lately, and I hope I've been able to entertain you and give you some relief from your stresses.

Now, to continue studying the head and neck, as well as biochem. Block 2 exams next week and I'm just not ready. O_O


Mike said...


Mike said...

Ok... I'm horrible when I'm distracted. I was looking away from the computer screen or something and typed in the CAPTCHA down below in my comment.

That's great the kids were good whether they were advanced or not. YAY!!!

I think you definitely should work in the community with schools, that would be awesome.

I think you have a special heart when it comes to working with kids :)

mrgagaa said...

Yeah, kids can be awesome if you know how to relate to them and get into their world. I've worked with both mainstream and special ed HS kids and those moments were among the most memorable in my life.

I'm glad you mentioned James in your tangent. The other day I was thinking of doing the same on my blog, but I didn't get around to it. I hope he's doing better too.

Jason Carwin said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your teaching experience. Teaching is pretty fun, isn't it? I often toy with the idea of becoming a teacher.

Aaron said...

Aaaah.. Teaching. I miss it so much. And biochem.. Haha. Brings back memories, Aek! :) Those days trying to remember ALL the enzymes and the figures - OMG!

Aek said...

Mike: "queddlef"? o_O? I would certainly love to occasionally work in the community with schools, perhaps giving a guest talk in a health class or something. I could definitely see a need for doctors to do that and address issues at large rather than always one-on-one.

mrgagaa: I hope James is doing better too.

Jason: Teaching can be quite fun, but I think it requires a particular kind of personality to tolerate and excel in it.

Aaron: Man, biochem. Do not want, lol. I have an exam in that next Friday. Ugh. >.<

Dave83201 said...

How did I miss this post? I swear you just slipped this in because I try to be on top of things the second you post anything.

Thoroughly charming post! This is why I'm looking to going into some kind of art therapy for kids. We are both so maternal... lol.

Thanks for the shout out! And, yes, at a stressful time you have been very entertaining!