WVU School of Nursing Students Help Rural Communities
 Photo caption: Kayleigh Burner, a WVU senior nursing student from Morgantown, presents her rural health rotation project, “Are You Ready to Zumba? Dancing Your Way to a Healthier Lifestyle” during the WVU School of Nursing’s student poster session Thursday, Nov. 27, at the WVU Health Sciences Center. On her laptop, Burner displays a video of a Zumba class she taught this fall at Moundsville Junior High School.

During this fall semester, 62 West Virginia University senior nursing students provided a total of 13,950 hours of service and care for West Virginians living in 11 of the state’s 55 counties. 

The WVU School of Nursing celebrated senior nursing students and their rural health rotation projects at the student poster session Thursday, Nov. 27, at the WVU Health Sciences Center.

To determine rotation topics, nursing students assessed the needs of the community where they did their rotation. 

Nursing students addressed a wide range of health issues such as smoking cessation, education in safe sex, ATV safety and childhood obesity.

"A lot of our students are going back to the communities and continuing these projects on their own time,” said Barbara Kupchak, Ph.D., WVU School of Nursing Associate Professor. “Professors did not have a hand in assigning these topics. The students used their own creativity.”

With physical education disappearing from school curriculums nationwide, Kayleigh Burner of Morgantown decided to teach the popular Latin dance-inspired exercise Zumba to 7th and 8th grade girls for her rotation project.

Burner traveled to Moundsville Junior High School three days a week to teach Zumba. She used hip-hop music to help the girls relate more to the exercise.  She also separated half of the gymnasium off with a cloth screen to give the girls some privacy during the lessons.

“There are a lot of self-esteem issues for girls at this age,” Burner said.  “I think they really enjoyed this experience and it helped boost their confidence. They even performed Zumba in front of their peers during a school assembly.”

To address the childhood obesity problem in West Virginia, Ashley Neal of Sydney, Australia, worked with 5th and 6th graders at Taylor County Middle School in Grafton, W.Va., to encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“The kids were very enthusiastic about eating healthier and they enjoyed working together in the classroom to think about some alternatives to fast food,” Neal said.

At the end of her rotation, Neal surveyed the students she worked with and 100 percent said they would like to eat healthier foods.

Danielle McCardle, a Morgantown resident and native of Porto Allegre, Brazil, taught students at University High School in Morgantown about relaxation techniques and healthier ways of coping with stress.

McCardle gave the students a stress test at the beginning of her rotation and many students rated themselves as feeling overly stressed.

“With suicide being the second leading cause of death among teenagers, it’s so important for them to learn better ways of relieving stress that they can continue to use as they grow,” McCardle said.

More than 80 percent of WVU School of Nursing graduates remain in the state to help meet the nursing workforce needs of West Virginia.

For more information about the WVU School of Nursing, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/son.

- WVU -

For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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