A community teaching experience paper on childhood obesity
By Abirah Okoth
Community Teaching Plan: Teaching Experience Paper
As part of the community teaching project, I completed a community training session on the prevention and management of childhood obesity. The specific focus of the community teaching project was to train the community on strategies for preventing childhood obesity in the context of the local environment. This paper details my experience with the community teaching project, my perceptions of the audience’s experiences during the exercise, key strengths, and reflections on possible areas of improvement in similar future projects.
Summary of Teaching Plan
The teaching plan that I used for the project was derived from the humanistic nursing theory, which focuses on the overall human experience while providing care to individual patients and client systems. The humanistic nursing theory is notable because it tasks caregivers, or in this case teachers, to engage in dialogue with patients interpersonally, and to blend one’s own personal and emotional viewpoints with those of the patients. The theory is grounded in the concepts of dialogue, community, and phenomenological nursing. Teaching through the phenomenological nursing approach requires a practitioner to subjectively understand the perceptions and experiences of a group without prejudice while also acknowledging a personal world view (Wolf & Bailey, 2013). In this case, I conducted my own extensive research on childhood obesity as a general concept, as well as the context of the condition in the local community. This allowed me to have a preliminary understanding of what the community might think about the condition.
The next step was to seek to understand the perspectives of the community on childhood obesity. I did this by consulting with practitioners in the area and with community members. This exercise was useful for two key reasons. First, it allowed me to understand how the understanding of ordinary people with regard to childhood obesity varies from the perspective that caregivers have on the issue. As such, I was able to frame my presentation in a way that would allow my target audience to understand the issue and its underlying concepts clearly and easily. Second, I was able to determine the community’s interests and the resources that are available to the people, which informed the solutions that I presented for addressing the problem of childhood obesity in the local area. Having done my research and formulated a comprehensive teaching plan, I proceeded to develop the presentation that I used for the community teaching project.
Childhood obesity is a major problem that affects many regions in the United States and other developed countries. There is a major concern that if left unchecked, childhood obesity could incur serious health consequences for future generations, both in an individual sense and in the broader context of public health. Research indicates that childhood obesity increases the risks of individuals developing chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, asthma, and joint problems (Han, et al., 2010). Children who suffer from obesity are also prone to psychological problems like poor body image, low self-esteem, depression, stigma, and anxiety. Furthermore, children who suffer from obesity are more likely to be victimized through bullying, and they are also more likely to become obese as adults (Simmonds, et al., 2016).
Besides the health effects that childhood obesity has on individuals, the condition also causes plenty of adverse indirect consequences on the health of a community in a broader sense. Presently, the two leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer. Diabetes is also among the leading causes of death in the country. All these three conditions are strongly linked to obesity. Looking at this issue from a long term perspective, it is conceivable that if childhood obesity is left unaddressed, it could potentially culminate in a lower quality of life for a significant proportion of the population, since more people may develop chronic diseases that expose them to serious illness and death. The healthcare system also stands to spend a lot of resources addressing the chronic illnesses that arise from obesity. This is especially relevant considering the fact that America’s healthcare system has always contended with ways of reducing costs while improving the quality of care for patients. As such, there is a need to develop preventative strategies for addressing childhood obesity. Community-based solutions are favorable in this sense because they allow the people who are affected by childhood obesity to share ideas and experiences with one another, thus resulting in sustainable solutions that are based on real life experiences.
Evaluation of Teaching Experience
I strived to keep the teaching exercise simple and brief but impactful. At the beginning of the exercise, I outlined several objectives that I intended to fulfil, which would determine the success of the project. First, I sought to improve my audience’s understanding of the concept of childhood obesity, including the underlying causes of the condition. Second, I wished to help my audience understand the impact that childhood obesity has on children’s current health, as well as the adverse implications of the condition on the long term health of the children and their community. The third objective was to present some solutions that the community could use to address the problem and limit the prevalence of childhood obesity. To gauge the effectiveness of my approach and the success of the exercise, I provided the audience with a simple optional post-exercise survey to assess their understanding of the concepts that I had discussed with them. Based on the feedback that I received from the survey, as well as the cues that I got from the audience during the actual presentation, the teaching exercise successfully achieved all the objectives that I had set out to fulfil.
Community Response to Teaching
I received an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience during the presentation. One strategy that I used was to pause in between each major section and ask the audience if they had any questions thus far. The idea was that through the audience questions, I could gauge how effective my methods had been at helping the people to understand the concepts that I was trying to get across. I got some interesting questions on childhood obesity in this way, and I was very pleased to note that some audience members preempted the solutions that I suggested even before we got to that part of the presentation. To me, this shows that the audience was engaged and attentive, which was a major positive outcome for the community teaching exercise. I also got approached by several members of the audience after the presentation, and they made it clear that they understood the importance of taking childhood obesity seriously. The members of the community who were present at the exercise pledged to convey the information that I provided to them to other members of the community, which is another major success for the community teaching exercise.
The key strength of the presentation and overall teaching plan is that it was simple, straightforward, and relevant. I spent a lot of time researching on the specific needs and resources of the community in relation to the problem of childhood obesity. As such, the solutions that I suggested to the community were relevant and practical. For instance, I suggested that renovating the local park might encourage more children to become physically active during the holidays when they are away from school, which could play into reducing childhood obesity in the community. Such practical solutions seemed to resonate with the audience compared to the more complex policy solutions that I also discussed with them. Another strength of the exercise was that it was sufficiently brief to cover the key points without boring the audience. One of the tips that I learned about prior to the exercise was that the audience was more likely to become disinterested if the presentation went on for too long. I succeeded in retaining the attention of the people by inviting them to ask questions and addressing the concerns that arose to the best of my ability.
The only major weakness that I noted on my part during the exercise pertained to the more complex policy issues that I addressed at the end of the presentation. I proposed collaborations between local health agencies and schools in order to facilitate knowledge about dieting and nutrition to school-going children. While I initially thought that this was a fairly straightforward concept, I noted that the audience was less engaged during this final part of the exercise compared to the earlier phases. It is conceivable that the audience was merely fatigued at this point, and perhaps this is why less people were willing to ask questions. However, it is also possible that the final part provided the audience with more technical solutions that did not specifically apply to them. In the future, I will try to focus specifically on when ordinary members of the community can do to address the health issues that affect them, rather than what the community leaders may do.
Overall, I think that the community teaching exercise was successful. The exercise gave me practical exposure to community engagement, which I think is a crucial component of caregiving. I fulfilled all the objectives that I set out for myself and my audience in the presentation, and I am thrilled by the prospect of empowering the community in a small way to address the pervasive issue of childhood obesity.
Han, J. C., Lawlor, D. A., & Kimm, S. Y. (2010). Childhood obesity. The Lancet, 375(9727), 1737-1748.
Simmonds, M., Llewellyn, A., Owen, C. G., & Woolacott, N. (2016). Predicting adult obesity from childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity reviews, 17(2), 95-107.
Wolf, Z. R., & Bailey, D. N. (2013). Paterson and Zderad’s Humanistic nursing theory: Concepts and applications. International Journal of Human Caring, 17(4), 60-73.