The Children’s Awareness Carnival (CAC) is an event organized every spring by the Children’s Awareness Committee in which 200 fifth grade students are invited to attend from different schools around the Lodi Unified School District. This year, the students from Westwood, Live Oak, Joe Serna, and Southerland Elementary Schools joined us for a fun day of health-related learning.
The morning of April 29th began by dividing the students into six groups and distributing them into six different classrooms in the Rotunda. They were able to learn about diabetes, dental hygiene, fitness/hydration, drug awareness, asthma/smoking, and even dissect a real sheep heart. According to WestwoodElementary fifth grade teacher Mrs. Durnell, “the heart lab was a highlight for the students, mainly because it was something they’d never seen before.”
After completion of their six lessons, the students enjoyed lunch on the lawn and explored the Pacific campus. The students were thrilled upon seeing the 25 booths of games and activities set up outside. There were booths offering education on sun safety and ‘make their own colorful visors. There was a game simulating an earthquake in which the students had to quickly roll under a set of tables to protect their bodies. One booth taped a giant, human-sized poster to a tree and taught children where to apply band-aids and other first aid materials.
Other games included basketball, golf, obstacle course relay, and bowling. At each booth students were given prizes consisting of toothbrushes, deodorants, soap, hand sanitizers, trail mix, etc. They even had a chance to win goldfish! “I liked the trail mix. I didn’t know that vegetables could be in it!” said a student.
CAC organizes this event every year to allow students to have fun experiences, visit a college campus, and learn about health-related careers as a possibility and goal in life. Many do not have opportunities to visit college campuses and are not driven (yet) to work toward higher education. Many of the teachers tell us that most of the students “don’t think of college as being in their future.” By exposing them to college we hope to encourage them and let them know that it is possible for them to achieve. In particular, we wanted them to have a glimpse of what student pharmacists learn and how much pharmacists can help others with their knowledge.
The carnival is also a great event to bring together the whole Health Sciences campus. Student dental hygienists taught the children about brushing their teeth. Student physical therapists created a giant relay maze for the children to enjoy. All the pharmacy fraternities, organizations, and committees were also involved with a grand total of 150 volunteers who were gracious enough to help give 200 children an amazing and enriching field trip. Everyone enjoyed being outside on the lawn and interacting with the children, setting great examples of how fun science and learning can be.
With a generous donation from Rite Aid, CAC was able to pay for school buses that brought all 200 eager children to the Pacific campus. Sadly, many elementary schools in San Joaquin County cannot afford to provide their students with field trips due to lack of funding. For these children, our carnival is their only field trip of the year. Field trips are one way for children to gain insight about new topics and careers and CAC hopes to one day extend the invitation to all children in the local area.
By Eileen Kim, '12