Center To Launch Health Program In A/B

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

In an effort to meet the needs of Allston/Brighton schoolchildren, the Neighborhood Center has inaugurated a program to provide them with health and safety information.

The Health Outreach Program will begin next month and will send Boston College students into the city's public and private schools to discuss safety, nutrition, fitness and substance abuse, and conduct hearing and vision screenings.

According to Neighborhood Center Director Timothy Burke, the program is being offered to interested schools, many of which do not have full-time nurses on staff, and the response has been enthusiastic.

"Our annual Health Awareness Week in Allston/Brighton included one school and was so successful and appreciated by the school and the students that we realized we should be doing it elsewhere. The BC students and staff also found it rewarding and worthwhile," Burke said.
Neighborhood Center Director Timothy Burke--"One of the great things about this program is that all the resources we need are in-house at BC." (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Burke recruited three campus student organizations - the Circle K Club, the Help Educate through Athletic Responsibility group and the Peer Education Network - as well as the School of Nursing and the Boston College Police Department to participate in the project.

Nursing students, he added, will conduct hearing and vision screenings, as well as smoking cessation and dental hygiene programs.

The Circle K students will teach seatbelt safety and bicycle and helmet safety. The HEAR students will conduct sessions on nutrition, proper sports equipment, physical fitness and student-athlete responsibility. The PEN students will deal with alcohol and drug awareness, sexual assault education and AIDS awareness, and the BCPD will address stranger safety issues.

Each session will be offered in a half-day, health fair format and the speakers will make presentations to the students in their classrooms or designated areas. Burke said individual principals will decide which package of topics is appropriate for each school.

The program will begin on Feb. 27 at the Alexander Hamilton Elementary School. Other schools participating include Mt. St. Joseph's Academy High School on March 11, Our Lady of Presentation Elementary School on April 1, and St. Columbkille's Elementary School on April 29.

Burke said he hopes the program will reach all interested schools in the Allston/Brighton neighborhood within two years. He added that the idea for the program was eagerly supported among the groups he contacted.

"One of the great things about this program is that all the resources we need are in-house at BC," Burke said. "All the people on board are very enthusiastic about this program. They really want it to be a success."

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