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Students from the George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing have recently completed the school’s first installation of a two-month program teaching DC middle schoolers about heart disease and healthy living.

The program was funded by a grant from the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation which partnered GW Nursing with the AnBryce Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on community-building for middle school students. Eleven students in the nursing school have attended the Saturday Institute at Thurgood Marshall Academy every week since September to teach children how to keep their hearts healthy and how social factors can impact their health.

Karen Dawn, co-principal investigator of the program and an assistant professor of nursing, said people in the county where the middle school is located die 10 to 15 years earlier than people living in other areas in DC, highlighting the importance of teaching children that diet, exercise, genetics, and location all impact heart health, and children should start eating foods that are good for the heart and stay physically active at an early age to prevent heart disease.

Dawn tells, “Our job in the School of Nursing, especially mine being the director of community health and public health for the undergraduates, is to make sure we’re helping people in the communities that we work in. We don’t just teach our students, we want them to be able to go out and help the communities and see some sustainability there.”

The program has helped middle school students understand that factors outside their control – like not having access to parks, sidewalks, or grocery stores – impact how they stay healthy. The GW nursing students worked with the middle school students to teach heart-healthy practices through interactive activities like watching videos and playing games.

To learn more about GW Nursing’s two-month program to teach DC middle schoolers about heart disease and healthy living, visit here.

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