Children, parents, teddy bears and baby goats were among those taking part in the 5th Annual Community Health Carnival at Minne Lusa Elementary School on April 18.
Teddy bear checkup and goat-cuddling stations were among the many activities available to children and families at the event, which drew an estimated 500 attendees.
Minne Lusa’s Health Carnival is organized and hosted by the 80 NMC Bachelor of Science in Nursing students in "Community-Based Care Across the Lifespan," a junior-level course.
The annual event was created by Minne Lusa’s school nurse: NMC alum Andrea Staton (BSN, 2011; Horizon Award Winner, 2014), who grew up close to the school.
Andrea’s connections to the school and surrounding community run deep. Her mother was a 25-year school employee. Minne Lusa is the elementary school Andrea attended -- and Andrea’s daughter, too.
Andrea (shown above) says she grew up knowing she’d pursue a healthcare career. She became a nurse, she said, “because I wanted a job that would allow me to help people.”
As Minne Lusa’s school nurse, Andrea makes a difference in the lives of students and families every day. Especially impactful is the annual Health Carnival. She proposed the event as a collaboration with the NMC Department of Nursing. The idea came from her own positive experiences helping with a school health fair as a student at NMC.
The Minne Lusa event's focus is on fun with a healthy twist. That's why it is more than a health fair. It's a health carnival.
Andrea says everyone involved in the event gets excited: the nursing students and faculty, the Minne Lusa staff and families and community – but especially the students.
“The kids really look forward to this,” said Andrea. “They talk about it for months before and afterward.”
This year, those who came to the Minne Lusa Health Carnival enjoyed a free hot meal, bounce house, music, games, bike and bike helmet raffle, health information booths, and health screenings provided by NMC students and staff from the Mobile Diabetes Center.
There were also free items for families to take home, including groceries, clothing and kids’ books.
A variety of community partners contributed to the success of the event.
And it was a labor of love for the hardworking team of nursing students who planned, coordinated and hosted the event.
“It’s a time for the community to come together,” said Amanda Harvey, one of the NMC nursing students involved in the event.
“We wanted people to experience how much we care about one another, especially those in need.” (Amanda is shown below with her son, Hylan, who also helped with the event.)
Minne Lusa Elementary has one of the highest free and reduced school lunch rates in the Omaha Public School System: 92.6% of the students qualify for assistance.
“Members of this community are in high need,” said Amanda, “and, as nursing students, we’re honored to be able to give them a hot meal and some resources for better health and nutrition. We want to keep kids and families healthy and out of the hospital.”