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From Bedside to Community: How Nursing Students from Humber College Become Involved with Green Thumb

by Humber Nursing Students & Instructor Stephanie Hamilton

In their community placement, the Humber nursing students collaborate with Green Thumbs to become involved with the community and Green Thumbs’ activities and work towards building a strong and healthy community by providing and promoting resources for health and well-being.  This year the nursing students worked towards promoting health through online programs.

The shift from in-person to online learning was a challenge for most to adjust to, especially elementary school children who look forward to their every-day social interactions. Luckily, Green Thumbs had no problem taking their educational programs and tailoring them for an online delivery. As nursing students from Humber College, we collaborated with Green Thumbs for the Fall 2020 semester to assist, and have participated in the agency’s virtual programs.

As part of the community and population health nursing clinical practice, students have created multiple community health lessons for Green Thumbs and the greater good of the community and population it serves. Despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, the nursing students were able to keep the lessons interactive and fun, while keeping their social distance and staying connected with students via online platforms. The Nursing students have adapted their lessons formats to ensure the health and safety for everyone.

Nursing students divided into two groups during this clinical experience, one group participated in the Lives Rewritten after-school program and created and presented lessons on mindful breathing, positive thoughts, and gratitude for food. The second group participated in the online school program with Green Thumbs and created virtual lessons on healthy eating and mental health.

The first lesson is on Canada’s food guide and healthy eating habits, where the importance of community and school gardens has been incorporated into the lessons with fun activities that elementary students are able to enjoy and participate in.

The second lesson is on mental health, emotional wellbeing and how to cope with emotional stress. This lesson was chosen to help students better manage in relation to the current atmosphere of the pandemic. Learning at home or socially distancing at school raises many challenges for grade school children. That is why another focus of our program was to create a mindfulness lesson. This lesson touched on the importance of having a positive well-being, and healthy coping strategies to deal with our every day to day emotions. Students were given the opportunity to identify common emotions they experience and were asked to reflect on ways they may cope with them. Students were able to participate in a range of coping skills including reinforcement of staying physically active as a major benefit to our overall health.

The after school Lives Rewritten program was developed in conjunction with Greenthumbs to support emotional well-being in the immigrant population. This is a fun interactive online program for kids new to Canada. While staying true to the gardening theme we cover topics such as mindful breathing, positive thoughts and gratitude for our food. Our goal is to empower the kids and give them a sense of confidence in their new lives.

During this clinical practice with the community, the nursing students were able to achieve their course learning outcomes on the different aspects of nursing, such as community assessment and social justice, where students have utilized different online tools to visit and explore the community and neighbourhoods that Green Thumbs serves. The nursing students were able to identify the strengths and areas that need more attention through an equity and equality lens, and have developed their corresponding community health projects using the community health model learned from their theory courses in order to put them into practice.

Humber Nursing student Avatars:

Stephanie (instructor), Saranson, Jiamin, Jaclyn, Daniel, Gloria, Nayana, Harpreet and James

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