2009 NSNA/Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek Essay Contest Grand Prize Winner
The Green Change Movement-Reuse, Recycle and Reduce
Sheila D. Holman
Sheila Holman (right), from Mercer County Community College, Trenton, NJ, pictured with NSNA® Imprint Editor and Image of Nursing chair, Lauren Brewer won the Essay Contest Grand Prize, presented at NSNA's 57th Annual Convention, April 15-19, 2009, in Nashville, TN. Students were asked to respond to the question "What can nurses and nursing students do to raise awareness and take action to create a greener and healthier living environment?" Ms. Holman won a $500 gift cheque, complimentary registration to the Convention and the winning essay published online at www.nurse.com and www.nsna.org.
There are three categories in the green awareness world. They are reuse, recycle, and reduce. Nurses and nursing students can get involved in their communities by developing conferences in their local communities that follow the ideas of a healthy, green awareness. Nurses and nursing students would partner up with community organizations such as civic groups, hospitals, Senior Citizen Centers, YMCA's, Boys Clubs, wellness centers, golf clubs, and schools to all take part in the green-healthcare conferences. Nurses and nursing students could also form a green-healthcare website with donation and drop-off locations for those who are willing to part with household items, clothing, appliances, books, computers and mobile phones. At the conferences, local community leaders from organizations would have E-mail lists for the public to participate in on-going projects such as blood drives, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes. A typical green-healthcare conference would probably look like this:
CONFERENCE TABLE 1: SMOKING CESSATION
Nurses and nursing students could administer smoking cessation programs with hotlines and websites with mentors for those who are having trouble quitting. They could remind smokers to quit smoking and free up their disposable income to consume organic food and purchase energy efficient light bulbs. Likewise, they could campaign at hospitals and doctors' offices to "stop smoking and invest in your health." Reminding the public that less smoking means less accidental fires to properties and air pollution and loss of life from fires could be a major part of this service.
TABLE 2: AIR POLLUTION AND ALLERGY AND ASTHMA
Creating a healthy breathing environment is critical to prevent childhood asthma attacks. Parents are forced to take time off from work to attend to their children's allergy or asthma attack. Time off from work takes money out of parents' pockets, and harms corporate America because work is not getting done. Healthcare cost reductions are paramount in the comeback of corporate America in a global economy. A selection of "green" air filter and cleaning product companies would display and explain their merchandise and might offer "special-conference prices." Free allergy test sign-up sheets would also be provided to the public.
TABLE 3: IMMUNIZATION
Nurses could provide shot records, age recommendation lists, and service locations to the public. Lost time from work due to flu or to preventable childhood diseases from lack of immunization in our communities denies Americans the opportunity of positioning first in a competitive global economy.
TABLE 4: WASHING HANDS AND ILLNESS REDUCTION
Nursing and nursing students can spread awareness of washing hands thoroughly. Cleaning common areas such as computer keyboards, and door knobs would reduce the spread of illnesses. Sample-size hand sanitizer's bottle would be made available.
TABLE 5: ORGANIC NUTRITIOUS FOOD AND EXERCISE AND SLEEP
Adults must become positive role models because children are always watching. Children need to learn that quitters are winners when it comes to smoking and losing excess body fat. Since children tend to follow more of what they see and less of what is said to them, nurses and nursing students could offer workshops for school projects that teach children to read food labels, to recycle, and to learn healthy exercise habits. Nurses could have poster contests for new green food labels, proper disposal for trash, and adequate exercise and sleep habits.
TABLE 6: SAFETY PRODUCTS AND CLUTTER FREE HOUSEKEEPING
Nurses and nursing students could promote awareness of preventable accidents of slips, trips, and falls. The bath tub and stairs are common places for accidents. Less sick time frees up disposable income for individuals to spend at recreational activities and more quality time with family and friends. Literature for bath tub rails could be provided to the public. Housekeeping companies could provide hand-outs for green organizational housekeeping products. Nurses and nursing students would remind the public to donate or recycle unused clutter items to charity organizations. The fire department will provide information for the placement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
TABLE 7: BLOOD DONATIONS
Nurses and nursing students can promote donations of blood, one of life's precious resources. An E-mail list would be provided for community organization to host blood drives at their facilities and a mobile donation team would be on hand for donations that day.
TABLE 8: DONATED ITEMS OR TIME
American children are behind in basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as computer literacy. Libraries have limited resources, and after school programs for children are scarce. Child care options are limited for teenager and college-age student parents who want to stay in school. Nursing students could advertise for donations in their local communities for babysitter vouchers at nonprofit agencies' or they also could donate recycled books at after school programs, and recycle computers from businesses to local community programs. They could offer sign-up sheets for retired seniors to share their valuable know-how and tutor at after school programs. Seniors could also teach children recreational mind expanding activities such as chess. Children learn critical thinking skills, strategy, and patience through recreational games. Nursing students could remind professors to administer exams through the computer in college or high school. This exam process saves paper and also increases computer skills. Students can also receive their exam results immediately at the end of a test or through an E-mail link.
TABLE 9: SOLAR ENERGY AWARENESS
Solar panels on roofs of schools, hospitals, and libraries can encourage people to use more effective energy sources in their own homes. Eventually solar panels on residential homes will be an everyday occurrence. Energy companies would be invited to display their products at this table.
TABLE 10: CHILDREN'S BOOKS ON ALTERNATIVE ENERGY AND HEALTH
Nurses and nursing students can participate in reading sessions in the pediatrics' units and can encourage children to spend more time reading on topics such as alternative energy and organic food than sitting in front of a television set. This will also allow the nurses to further bond with their patients. Local libraries and book stores will provide a reading circle for children through adults at this table.
TABLE 11: CAR POOLS AND GREEN HOTELS
Nurses and nursing students should car pool when possible and rent energy- efficient vehicle such as hybrids when attending National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) conventions. Nurses could stay at green hotels. Green hotels give one an option to opt out of having their guest towels and sheets washed every day. A list of participating hotels and rental dealers will be provided.
TABLE 12: ENERGY AUDIT PROVIDER LIST
Nurses and nursing students could invite or provide resources to the public who like to have energy audits performed for residential or commercial buildings.
TABLE 13: HEALTH CAREER EMPLOYMENT
Assisted living companies could promote job opportunities to nursing students. Healthcare job provide income and practical experience for nursing students.
Our great-great-grandchildren will benefit if we continue "The Green Change Movement." With positive role models from parents and encouragement from healthcare providers the American people will prosper!