Health sciences students serve community through self-esteem lessons

April 24, 2014

As announcements boomed over the intercom at Otter Creek Middle School, seventh and eighth grade girls interested in joining the Girl Scouts filter into small cafeteria..

Once settled in their seats, the girls heard not from teachers but from future health educators from Indiana State University.

Nicole Sgouroudis, a junior nursing major from Lowell, went over deep breathing and guided imagery techniques for the girls to use when they are feeling stressed out. Many of the girls mentioned several ways that they deal with stress such as eating cupcakes, punching things, or sleeping all day.

"It's important to teach this age group positive ways to relieve stress and allow them to independently think of how they will positively deal with a stressful situation," Sgouroudis said.

Sgouroudis and other members of her group from Indiana State told the girls to gather their chairs in a circle so they could learn different breathing techniques to help calm them down. They then closed their eyes and envisioned a peaceful setting in the forest. Although many of the girls were giggling and peeking at others in the circle during the exercises, they responded well to the overall message, insisting that they would apply these lessons to their lives.

"After the presentation, the girls changed their answers of how they would deal with stress to, ‘count to 10,' ‘take a deep breath,' ‘squeeze a stress ball,' and ‘go for a walk,' which lets us know we reached our goal in teaching these girls a positive, healthy life skill they will utilize in the future," Sgouroudis said.

The presentation was part of the Studio 2B program, an initiative by the Girl Scouts of Terre Haute that focuses on enhancing girls' self-esteem. Additionally, these sessions were initiated with the SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) model in mind, with the goal of strengthening ISU students' civic engagement with the local community to address real-world issues.

Jesica Overstreet, a sophomore health sciences major from Avon, went over nutritional values for the girls with another group member, Beverly Williams. She presented a board decorated with fruits, meats, and vegetables and asked what types of foods they thought were good and bad. She then handed out coloring sheets for the girls to create their own nutritional plates.

"We thought teaching good nutrition would teach them how to [apply] it themselves other than relying on others to do it for them," Overstreet said. "I think [it helped] by explaining exactly how to put together a plate themselves."

"Seeing that there are so many negative media messages about girls' bodies featuring unrealistic images of beauty, it is critical to reach girls at this age to teach them skills to view their bodies as strong and healthy," said Borrero, assistant professor of applied health sciences. Borrero had students in her educational methods class develop lessons for the program.

Her class has been teaching the middle school girls productive ways to deal with self-esteem issues over the course of the semester. Studio 2B themes vary each month. The topics discussed so far include managing social media, friendships, role models, and maintaining positive relationships. The April theme is "Serene Scene," which teaches the girls healthy ways to deal with various health issues, such as nutrition and stress.

Through the Studio 2B program, Borrero said her students were given, "a great and unique opportunity to focus on health and self-esteem. The possibilities [are] endless [because] health touches all aspects of our lives."

Borrero's ultimate goal for her students through their presentations and applied teaching skills is to be able to communicate effectively with different target groups. She said that when students get hands-on experience with a "real" audience in the community, it is a bit of a wakeup call because it prepares them for their future field in dealing with different groups of people.

"[I want my students to] fundamentally gain an understanding of how to adjust their teaching styles to what their audience needs," she said.

Not only is Borrero pleased by her students' ability to gain this type of experience, but she believes that they are addressing a bigger issue within the Terre Haute community. When she was contacted by the Girl Scouts of Terre Haute, they mentioned to her that these middle school girls really need positive messages on self-esteem.

"[We're] meeting a real need in the community," Borrero said. "[My students] are not just out there gaining knowledge for themselves, they're [giving back] and that makes me feel really gratified."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Media-Health-and-Human-Perform/Health-Education-self-esteem/i-wRRp3Lm/0/3X/04_07_14_Otter_Creek_self_esteem-136-3X.jpg - Indiana State University nursing major Nicole Sgouroudis offered stress reduction tips to seventh and eighth grade girls April 7, 2014 during a presentation at Otter Creek Middle School in North Terre Haute. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Media-Health-and-Human-Perform/Health-Education-self-esteem/i-MBPwHVV/0/3X/04_07_14_Otter_Creek_self_esteem-43-3X.jpg - Jesica Overstreet, a sophomore health sciences major at Indiana State University, provided tips for healthy eating to girls at Otter Creek Middle School April 7, 2014. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Lisa Borrero, assistant professor of applied health sciences, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-3301 or lisa.borrero@indstate.edu

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or sall@sycamores@indstate.edu