School & Community News

Hello, Sierra Leone! Healthy NewsWorks calling
December 6, 2016
Students in Sierra Leone field questions from Healthy Hero reporters.

Students in Sierra Leone field questions from Healthy Hero reporters via Skype.

December 2016… Healthy water and favorite games were among the topics for a recent face-to-face conversation between students in Philadelphia and the West African nation of Sierra Leone.

About 45 fifth and sixth graders from St. Veronica School in Philadelphia participated in the Skype session with students at Conforti Primary School in Calaba Town, near Freetown. The students waved to each other after brief introductions from their respective schools’ educators and then asked and answered questions for about 20 minutes.

The exchange was an outgrowth of a healthy water project that Healthy NewsWorks student journalists worked on last winter with KidsGive, a scholarship program at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. Lawrence Professor Claudena Skran, the founder of KidsGive, joined in the discussion from Sierra Leone, where she said the temperature was about 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sixth graders who served as reporters last year for the St. Veronica Healthy Hero interviewed the Conforti students about a new well that KidsGive had helped bring to the school. Before the well was completed, the Conforti students said, they would have to bring water from home to drink. They said the water from the well is healthier and makes their lives easier.

Responding to other questions, the Conforti students said they enjoy eating rice, salad, and fruit. One of their favorite activities is football—known as soccer in the United States. Also, they like learning and they have supportive teachers, the students said.

“I think the fifth and sixth grade students realized that the things we take for granted in our daily lives don’t come easily to others,” said Julia Clements, a St. Veronica teacher who oversees the Healthy Hero. “They learned to be more appreciative for what they have.”

The fifth grade students in Ms. Clements’ class will write an article about the conversation for an upcoming issue of the newspaper.

As part of the healthy water project, students from St. Veronica and St. Martin de Porres Catholic School worked with KidsGive members to produce two public service videos on handwashing and the Ebola virus. The videos have been shown to students and teachers in Sierra Leone.

“We’re very appreciative of this opportunity for students in Philadelphia to learn about a part of the world where health challenges are very different from what they know in their everyday life,” said Marian Uhlman, director of Healthy NewsWorks.

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.