NEWBERRY — Newberry County Memorial Hospital has been active at local elementary schools this fall with its Healthy Hearts, Healthy Habits program. In November NCMH speaker Brenda Riddle, a respiratory therapist with NCMH Cardiopulmonary Rehab, talked to students at Newberry Elementary School about heart health and healthy eating habits. She informed them of the high levels of sodium and sugar found in processed foods, particularly fast food choices.
She discussed cholesterol, heart health and helped students learn warning signs of a heart attack—symptoms such as chest pain that does not go away or someone feeling faint and dizzy. She mentioned how stress plays an important role in heart health and overall well-being. Yoga, meditation and recreational activities were some ways she mentioned as stress relievers, with a main one being exercise. In addition to dietary advice, Riddle asked students to make sure they get about an hour of exercise each day.
When it came to smoking and education, she shared facts like the ten-second window it takes for nicotine to affect the brain.
“This (short window) makes (nicotine) one of the more addictive drugs,” Riddle said. “Cigarettes are so addictive that it is hard to quit.” She told students how cigars and smokeless tobacco contain even more nicotine and are just as addictive. Models such as a teeth and a tongue that were affected by precancerous spots, a tar jar to represent the tar that accumulates in a person’s lungs. Students learned of additives in cigarettes, like acetone, butane, methanol and ammonia that help make a desired taste, burn rate and smell.
Riddle shared her own personal story of quitting smoking in hopes that students would understand the importance of not smoking. The goal of this program is to promote students doing those things early in life and establishing lifelong healthy habits.
“Having these visits to Newberry Elementary School really helps promote what we teach each day, including our 21st Century Learning Skills,” said NES Physical Education teacher Dylan Skinner.