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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI pharmacy students teach local children about dangerous substances

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

A prescription for a healthy future

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 24, 2005 -- South Kingstown elementary school children learned some important lessons about poisons and cigarettes thanks to University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy students. The URI students visited classes at the South Road School this spring as part the College’s annual outreach program for schoolchildren.

Ten pharmacy students presented a poison control prevention program to 52 enthusiastic first and second grade students. Lisa Rodriguez, a third-year pharmacy student from Lincoln, R.I., coordinated the interactive program through her involvement with Lamda Kappa Sigma, a professional pharmacy association.

“This program gave us the chance to reach out to the community and educate a group of youngsters, as we will when we are out in the workforce,” said Rodriguez.

One game the URI students played with the children was called “Yuk or Yea,” which involved the pharmacy students holding up dangerous and safe substances (for example household cleaner and apple juice) and had the children yell “yucky” or “yea” to distinguish between the two. At the beginning of the game the children had some trouble, but as it went on, they began to understand what was safe and what was not.

The pharmacy students also led the group in songs about poisons and safe products. Fellow student Nathan Charpentier, also of Lincoln, R.I., played the guitar during the song, “It added spark to the program,” he said.

“The children were still singing the song we had taught them after we left,” said Rodriguez.

Another group of pharmacy students representing the College’s Student Leadership Council conducted a program about cigarette smoking for a class of fifth graders. Done in conjunction with national Kick Butts Day, the program was coordinated by Mariya Farooqi, a forth-year pharmacy student from West Warwick, R.I. “The kids absolutely loved it,” she said.

The program consisted of three activities that explained the dangers of smoking and emphasized cigarette smoking prevention. The first activity was called “Return to Sender” where the children looked at cigarette advertisements and wrote letters to the cigarette manufacturers.

The second activity required the children to create and present skits on how smoking affects their social lives. “The kids were extremely imaginative and very bright,” said Farooqi. “The skits were hilarious.”

The final group activity taught the fifth graders about secondhand smoke. One group of children stood in a circle, while another group of children stood in the middle of the circle blowing bubbles. Those on the outside, without moving their legs, had to try to avoid the bubbles. It was quickly obvious that they could not avoid them; just as if they were in a room with smokers and would not be able to avoid the secondhand smoke.

“This is such an impressionable age group and it is important that these children do not pick up these dangerous habits so they can prevent disease later in life,” said Farooqi.

Farooqi said since some children are exposed to secondhand smoke by family members, they should be taught how to deal with such circumstances.

The URI pharmacy group hopes to continue the learning projects again next year. “As a profession, we need to look out for the health and well being of communities- in particular children,” said Chapentier.


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These University of Rhode Island pharmacy students and their professor help students at South Road Elementary School in South Kingstown understand the dangers of poisons by using musical numbers as well as other activities. Standing from left are: URI Pharmacy Professor Kelly Matson, Marissa Salvo of Pittston Township, Pa,, Stefanie Florenz of East Greenwich, Lisa Rodriguez of Lincoln, R.I., Jillian Hawkins of Barrington, R.I., and Revathi Annapareddy of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Sitting playing the guitar is Natthan Charpentier of Lincoln. R.I. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno photography.