First grade teachers wanted a service project that would tie health and the chidren’s visit to the hospital together. When asked, our local hospital staff identified a need for “hospital dolls” which help children cope with the hospital experience. A local church group had made them for the emergency room but they had stopped making them. Emergency room nurses found them to be of great value.
When a service area becomes a year long communication with the hospital the relationship becomes significant. Hospital staff know they can let the students know when their supplies are running low. Children understand their role and value in the community. If we embed and sustain a topic area at each grade level, everyone in the community comes to know where information is available. In this case, the hospital staff know that first graders are the conduit to the community checklist. As staff generate ideas that would be helpful in the hospital setting, they can let the class know and the students can update the community checklist with this request. Community members no longer wonder what they can do, but rather can search by topic to see what they might be able to contribute based on personal interest and skill.
Hospital dolls help young children throughout their hospital experience in many ways. This first grade service learning project drew upon a model from Kiwanis of Burnside, Australia and information gathered from the websites of hospitals using these dolls in the US.
The above first grade project model is ready-to-go for first grade teachers to incorporate. Conversation with your local hospital will either confirm this need or suggest another. As with all sample projects a different version could be designed by any first grade teacher. The unifying aspect would be most strong as a project for the local hospital, however any caring outreach project could be used since first grade will be the collection point for community projects undertaken in this topic area. All community projects that fall under the topic of Caring Outreach would be shared with first graders who update this community checklist topic.
Beyond First Grade
In the models below the range of possibilities is quite wide, touching upon many needs and solutions. Some of the models are simple; others are complex. Some are urban; others are not, although perhaps worthy of consideration in our communities. The mix is educational for all of us, and most importantly, for our youth as they learn about their world.
Outreach Topic Areas: