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UNC-CH students help out in Tyrrell during spring break

By UNC staff

For ten years, students and faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have traveled to Tyrrell County to work in active partnership with the community toward building a culture of health. This year’s trip (Mar. 8-12) included sixteen students and three faculty members from the UNC Division of Physical Therapy, School of Nursing, and College of Arts and Sciences.

Students and faculty participated in a variety of community enhancement projects at Tyrrell Elementary School, Columbia Middle and High School, the Tyrrell County Senior Center, and Tyrrell House. At the elementary school, students helped to paint the basketball court and paw prints in the parking lot, set up baskets for a disc golf course, and teach PE and health education classes. The elementary school health classes consisted of three different activities that addressed the importance of eating healthy, washing hands and good cough and sneezing hygiene, developmental changes, and other health-related topics.

At the middle and high school, students painted paw prints in the parking lot and taught  PE and health education classes. The PE classes consisted of a variety of different activities, such as kickboxing, cardio workouts, basketball drills, and team-building games. The health classes focused on a variety of subjects such as healthy relationships, vaping, and substance abuse.

At the high school, a total of 58 students participated in a college mentorship session. The UNC students  talked with small groups of juniors and seniors about college applications, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), scholarships, essay writing skills, dealing with obstacles and challenges, and other key topics.

During their time in Tyrrell County, the students of Chapel Hill could be found actively helping many different parts of the community. Some students built a garden at the Tyrrell House, some helped at the Emergency Food Closet, and others organized a library at the Pocosin Arts Center. Two faculty members gave staff in-services at the Tyrrell House and the Department of Social Services. One team of UNC students performed assessments for falls risks at the Senior Center and checked blood pressures and reviewed medications. They made recommendations for specific exercises, assistive devices, and home safety modifications to decrease risk of falls. Many of these same activities were completed as part of home visits with older adults in their home.

One service activity took place outside of Tyrrell County, at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, where students worked on trail maintenance in the Soundside section of the park.

Overall, the students and faculty are grateful for each community partner who helped the group learn and work together in such a tight-knit community.