Students from Chaminade University’s School of Nursing and Ho`oulu Scholars with the “I Am a Scientist” mobile outreach program raised awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles during the 24th annual “Hawaii Children & Youth Day” at the State Capitol.
“This year is the fourth year that my junior nursing students participated in the fair,” pointed out Assistant Professor Eurina Yujin Cha. “Our purpose was to provide health screenings and nutrition education for parents and encourage physical exercise and vaccination education for children.”
Nursing students volunteering their time at the Oct. 1 event were: Abigail Adina, Mae Kimberly Corpuz, Ashley Farin, Airelle Guron, Eric Ganding, Jadelyn Yasuoka, Melissa Biador, Lauren Ngatuvai and Shayvell Noa.
Ho`oulu Scholars Cassandra Ainoa-Kanoho, Dairian Balai, Hi‘ilani Fujihara-Nagamine and Destiny Hamasaki underscored the importance of making healthy dietary choices by using hydrometers to reveal how much sugar is hidden in sodas, fruit juices and flavored milk.
In addition, the students showed more than 400 children how to read nutrition labels, while encouraging them to pursue college degrees and STEM careers.
“It’s important for people to understand that their children can have only a certain amount of sugar each day,” pointed out Hamasaki ’21, a Forensic Science major. Accordingly, this outreach educated “not only children who came to the table, but the parents who brought them.”
“This experience made me cut down on juice,” Hamasaki added, “so now I only drink water.”
Fujihara-Nagamine ‘21, an Environmental Studies major, said there were “many surprised faces” among children and parents when they realized how much sugar is contained in certain beverages.
“It was very eye opening for them, and some of the children even told me they were going to drink more water from then on,” Fujihara-Nagamine said. “A lot of the parents really appreciated that our booth was raising this awareness and thanked us for educating their children about how much sugar they intake just from sugary drinks.”
Fujihara-Nagamine described the outreach as “truly amazing.”
“Being able to help spread knowledge to families and children was really fun, and their enthusiasm was refreshing,” she said. “It reminded me of my childhood when I would learn about similar subjects. I never thought I would have the chance to be the one on the other side of the table teaching.”
Research Associate Lori Shimoda, who directs “I Am a Scientist” and founded the program in 2009, described the student volunteers as “fabulous ambassadors for Chaminade.”
“They were professional, cheerful and engaging,” Shimoda said, “with both little kids and their parents.”