Becky Johnson is an MCH trainee from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. She is a second-year graduate student in the combined Masters of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetic Internship program. Becky received her undergraduate degree in Dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado and spent August 2017 working with the Lao American Nutrition Institute in Vientiane, Lao PDR (as pictured below) — a collaboration between OHSU, the Lao Government and the U.S. Government to improve the state of nutrition of Lao, especially addressing high rates of stunting and malnutrition. In this blog post, she discusses her work with an early childhood health screening event on the Oregon coast.
A Focus on Family-Centered Care: Tillamook County’s Early Childhood Screening Fair
In April, I joined health professions trainees from both the MCH Nutrition training program and our sister program, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND), for an early childhood health screening fair at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds. While Tillamook is likely most famous for its cheese and ice cream production, it’s also a rural county with an estimated 26,000 people located on the northwest Oregon coast.
For three days every spring parents of pre-school aged children can bring their kids to the fairgrounds to receive physical, nutrition, hearing, vision, child development, behavior, dental, speech and lead screenings at no charge. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer with the nutrition screening program for two days this year.
We saw about 40 kids, mostly between the ages of 3-5 years old, during the two-day period. At the nutrition screening, we had a representative from the Tillamook County WIC program, as most families who attend the screening event are low-income and previously or currently eligible for WIC. Oregon State University Cooperative Extension was also on hand to lead children in making their own trail mix and handing out budget-friendly recipes that can also be found on their excellent Food Hero website.
Families were asked to fill out 24-hour diet records for each child prior to the event, and as nutrition trainees our primary role was reviewing the diet records, anthropometric data, and results from iron finger prick tests with the parents and to answer any nutrition-related questions. We were able to work with Spanish-speaking families through an interpreter, and help to address nutrition-related concerns on maximizing SNAP benefits and the special concerns of children with Down syndrome and type 1 diabetes.
We also led children in an activity using laminated food cards, asking them to put together a meal using a re-creation of MyPlate. Our biggest lesson learned in working with pre-schoolers on nutrition education is their tendency to separate foods by color rather than food group, but we ended up with some fairly balanced meals nonetheless.
Overall, this was a great experience to add to our training year and I especially enjoyed being able to interact with so many families in such a short amount of time.
-Becky Johnson, MCH Nutrition Trainee, Oregon Health & Science University