St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocacy Center Receives Funding for Health Education Programs from Suncoast Credit Union

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2016) – Suncoast Credit Union has renewed a $30,000 grant to St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocacy Center to teach its “Be Our Best” program in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas County schools through 2017.

“Be Our Best” empowers children to develop healthy practices in an effort to improve their overall physical and social well-being. The program includes four classes: Germaine the Germ Thing™, Body Safari, Mission Nutrition and I Can Eat a Rainbow. Thanks to previous funding from Suncoast Credit Union, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital was able to provide the health education to nearly 12,000 students in 30 different elementary schools in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties from Nov. 2013 to Oct. 2015.

“Part of our mission is to promote the health of children in the communities we serve,” says Cindy Helton, executive director for Suncoast Credit Union Foundation. “St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital’s ‘Be Our Best’ programs teach kids the importance of practicing healthy habits in ways that even the youngest students understand.”

Germaine the Germ Thing is a 30-minute interactive class that teaches students how to prevent the spread of germs through effective handwashing by using a song, like “The ABC Song.” Instructors demonstrate how to thoroughly wash, making sure to get their fingers, backs of hands, fingertips and thumbs clean. Students practice singing the song and washing their hands with liquid hand sanitizer. Each classroom is given a “Germaine the Germ Thing” cling that adheres to the bathroom mirror to reinforce healthy handwashing behaviors.

The Body Safari curriculum was developed for second- and third-grade students. The 60-minute presentation takes students on an adventurous journey through the human body, exploring how groups of organs work together. The class covers skeletal, muscular, digestive, skin, respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. Life-sized organs are used to discuss the function and fun facts about the body, and safety and wellness information is incorporated into an interactive game. Instructors also discuss preventable choices that contribute to injury and death for children, including seat belt use, bike safety, sun protection, and tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

During Mission Nutrition, fourth- and fifth-grade students learn the basic concepts of nutrition and overall health. They are introduced to the concept of reading food labels and are encouraged to use this skill to choose healthy foods on a daily basis. The interactive presentation allows students to gain knowledge about serving size, calories, fat content, sugar content and daily percentage values.

I Can Eat a Rainbow received a great response from the Head Starts in Hillsborough County. It was the second most requested program. Developed for preschool aged children, I Can Eat a Rainbow begins with the instructor reading a story about a hungry caterpillar that eats a variety of foods. During the story, students interact with a caterpillar puppet to select healthy foods and place them on an activity board, creating a rainbow of healthy food choices.

For more information on St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocacy Center’s “Be Our Best” program, please call (813) 615-0589