Upon their return from the Thanksgiving holiday, Riley Avenue School first-graders will be creating artwork to send to recovering cardiac patients at North Shore University Hospital as part of “Heartists,” the schools’ two-day program on the importance of a healthy heart.
“Heartists” started as the idea of Sheila Davies, a nurse practitioner at the Manhasset hospital and a Riverhead School District parent.
Ms. Davies and Diana Smith, a nurse at the hospital, visited the Calverton school Monday and Tuesday to teach students about the human heart and how to keep it healthy by getting proper exercise and not smoking.
On Monday, first-graders learned the size of a human heart and the sound it makes: “Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub.” Students also did jumping jacks in class and used stethoscopes to hear each other’s heartbeats.
“[Ms. Davies] brought this to me and I loved every minute of it,” said Riley Avenue principal David Enos. “What we try to do here is give students an academic education and a social, community service education.”
The first-graders will work with Riley Avenue art teacher Melissa Haupt after the Thanksgiving break to make art projects that will be framed and hung around the hospital. Ms. Davies and Ms. Smith will return to the school in the spring to show students photos of their artwork displayed in patients’ rooms and hospital hallways.
“This way the children will know not only that they’re being educated on what the human heart is, they’re also realizing that they can make a difference,” Ms. Davies said. “They can help patients recover from cardiac surgery.”
Students in Jeanne Stearns’ first-grade class said they learned a lot from the talk.
“We learned about the way the heart is pumping the blood,” said 6-year-old Kyle Kaelin as he fit a small plastic model of a heart back together.
“I think it’s great,” Ms. Stearns said of the program. “When people from the community come here it makes a bigger impact on the kids than just us [teachers] saying it.”