Pharmacy students expect to wear white lab coats, but some of them also volunteer to put on a kangaroo costume from time to time.
Several Drake students recently took turns donning a new Katy’s Kids kangaroo costume at the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Health Fair, thanks to a grant from Target Corp.
Katy’s Kids, which has been a student organization at Drake since 1996, was one of 12 student organizations represented at the inaugural student-organized fair held last month in Des Moines at Southridge Mall. The Katy’s Kids initiative is an educational program designed to teach young children about the appropriate and responsible use of medications. http://www.katyskids.com/
Students in the kangaroo costume were among more than 100 Drake students who participated in the health fair, which was planned to help increase health awareness and access for needy populations in the community.
“The health fair represented the largest collaborative student effort I have seen at Drake,” said Benjamin Urick, a third-year student in the professional pharmacy program from Prophetstown, Ill., who spearheaded the health fair. “We offered free basic health tests and education to those who need it most. It was an exciting opportunity for everyone involved, and it turned out to be a great success. It is my hope we can make this community outreach an annual event.”
Students, under the supervision of Drake pharmacy faculty and local pharmacists, performed more than 400 screenings for bone density, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, among others. An H1N1 vaccination clinic, blood donation center and free information were also featured in the health fair.
“This was a way for student pharmacists to demonstrate to the community what pharmacists do,” said Jordan Ruestman, a third-year pharmacy student from Minonk, Ill. “We wanted to educate the public about diseases and promote healthy living.”
Katy’s Kids students gave six presentations to nearly 50 children. “Many of the kids who attended enjoyed telling stories about how they have been sick before and have taken medicine,” said Sara Turnquist, a sophomore pharmacy student from St. Louis. “Once Katy came out, the kids got very excited and some even ran up to give her a hug.”
Turnquist said that Katy’s Kids is effective and valuable because it teaches medicinal safety to children in a way that is both informative and fun.
The program takes Drake students to Des Moines-area and rural schools to educate kindergarten through second-grade students.
“The kids especially enjoy interacting with Katy the Kangaroo,” said Jennifer Hidding, a third-year pharmacy student from Victoria, Minn., a Katy’s Kids coordinator since 2008.
“Presenters oversee group discussions, give demonstrations involving pharmacy equipment such as mortars and pestles and show an Iowa Pharmacy Association-produced video about pharmacy safety.”
The Iowa Pharmacy Association developed the program in 1988. For more than 20 years, it has been presented around the country in 30 states to 200 classrooms and more than 50,000 children.
For more information, including how to bring Drake’s Katy’s Kids presenters to a classroom, contact Katy’s Kids student coordinator Nick Kruger at 563-379-2758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.