LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) and its Center for Rural and Community Health (CRCH) are helping kids in Greenbrier County practice safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measures are thanks to a mini-grant from Volunteer West Virginia, an agency that administers funding to promote volunteerism and service in the state.
Through the “Be Kind” COVID-19 program, WVSOM’s CRCH is teaching children how to put on, take off and care for face masks, as well as proper handwashing techniques. CRCH Youth Program and Outreach Coordinator Joyce Martin has visited several area organizations and schools to provide the information, which includes a puppet demonstration when age-appropriate for the children.
In the past month, Martin has delivered the presentation to the Educational Ark Homeschool Co-Op, in Lewisburg, and to students at Ronceverte Elementary School and Williamsburg, W.Va.’s Flying Falcons 4-H Club. Additionally, Martin distributed hand-sewn masks made by WVSOM staff at the demonstrations, and worked with AmeriCorps volunteers to distribute them at The Hub Café in Lewisburg, operated by the High Rocks Educational Corporation, which teaches young West Virginians to operate a business.
Martin said the Be Kind program allows WVSOM to attend to the needs of the community at a time when the pandemic is creating challenges for educational institutions that serve young people.
“When we saw the opportunity to apply for this funding, schools were preparing to reopen,” she said. “It was a chance for us to create an engaging program to protect the health of our youth, their families and friends, and the overall community. Sewing and bagging masks for distribution gave adults a way to help children be healthy, happy and kind, and to ensure teachers have masks for students whose parents can’t afford to purchase them.”
So far, 126 hand-sewn masks have been distributed through the program. The CRCH will continue to provide masks to children through local organizations until supplies are exhausted.
WVSOM also has produced a video to be used as a virtual training for children at schools where safety protocols prevent WVSOM staff from visiting the school in person. Schools or other organizations may request the video by contacting Martin at 304-793-6571.