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Physical therapy school hosts health fair for elementary students

A squadron of fourth-graders jumped, ran, stopped, dropped and rolled all over campus Friday for the physical therapy department’s annual elementary school health fair.

More than 80 students attended from East Cheatham Elementary in Ashland City, Tenn. to learn about many aspects of healthy decision-making, including diet, exercise, drug resistance and fire safety.

A team of 36 second-year physical therapy graduate students assisted with the fair as part of the curriculum for their health and wellness course.

Ashley Henley, one of the PT doctorate students, helped the kids with the physical activity portion of the fair, which involved them frantically running relays around cones and jumping ropes on McWhorter plaza.

“I love working with kids,” she said over the din of little sneakers clapping on brick and students’ laughter chirping. “And I think the greatest thing about getting kids at this age, they’re growing up, they’re growing into their bodies and they’re making harder decisions for themselves.”

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The education they receive will ideally continue long past the time they leave Belmont’s campus.

After the fair, PT students provided the kids with a newsletter and a 20-page booklet to take home. Both of these materials teem with health tips, recipes and, of course, games.

In the meantime, the kids learned more about health and their own bodies. Watching them discover a heartbeat in their wrists–which they learned is called a pulse–and seeing their eyes light up amazedly was one of the most exciting parts, Henley said.

“It makes me feel awesome, shaping them like I would my siblings or cousins, ingraining good health choices.”

Chaperone Terri Young shared in the excitement as she supervised the kids’ relay.

“It’s pretty cool that the little kids get to hang out with the big kids,” Young said. “Everyone’s been loving and nurturing and fun. They definitely chose the right people.”

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