Blue Ridge Elementary School students get lesson in hygiene

Friday, October 30, 2009 | 2:03 p.m. CDT; updated 9:41 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sherry Powell, left, a dental hygienist, demonstrates to the kindergarten class at Blue Ridge Elementary what happens when sugar and bacteria combine in their mouths on Friday. Powell, along with representatives from the Student National Medical Association regional conference, went to classrooms to explain healthy habits and Halloween safety.

COLUMBIA — Basic hygiene isn't quite rocket science.

It's more like a locomotive.


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"Up like a rocket, down like a plane, back and forth like a choo-choo train," dental hygienist Sherry Powell said as she taught 90 first-graders and kindergartners at Blue Ridge Elementary School the proper method of brushing teeth.

Friday, two MU student organizations — the Student National Medical Association and the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students — visited the school and went from classroom to classroom providing basic hygiene tips.

The event was organized in conjunction with the regional Student National Medical Association conference going on this weekend at MU.

Vanessa Evoh, president of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, demonstrated the importance of thorough hand-washing by having four students apply to their hands a special Glo Germ lotion that illuminates germs under a black light. The hardest part for the rest of the children was sitting still and not jumping up to see the germs under the black light.

Next, the students washed their hands, while singing the ABCs, and watched all the germs disappear as they neared the end of the song. The vanishing trick drew exclamations of "Cool!" from the kindergarten crowd.

The student association members also acted out the concept of "stranger danger" through skits that dramatized the importance of sticking together and not talking to strangers.

Evoh said the idea for the event came up over the summer in discussions about possible community activities, and Blue Ridge Elementary was the most enthusiastic about bringing the future medical professionals to the school. Evoh said she had done a lot of volunteering growing up and attended health fairs with her mother, who was a teacher.

"We devised a way to do it on a small scale," she said. "Teaching kids little things will go a long way in overall health." 

Ten-year veteran kindergarten teacher Nancy Duncan said she thought the event was wonderful, and an important learning experience for her class.

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