Our Healthy Schools Project provides primary students in the Palajunoj Valley with free annual clinical care accompanied by education aimed to encourage life-long healthy habits.
Primeros Pasos was originally founded to specifically address the health issues confronting school children in the Palajunoj Valley. In our first year, we provided approximately 1,000 children in the Valley with free medical examinations and treatment. From these exams we discovered that there were extremely high rates of gastrointestinal parasites, contributing to the prevalence of malnutrition and diarrheal diseases. The Primeros Pasos team developed a plan of action combining clinical exams and laboratory analysis with health education that remains the core of our Healthy Schools Program today.
The project has two major components, “health field trips” hosted in the clinic and health education outreach in the schools, which combined help reach nearly 3,000 children in 10 schools in the Valley each year. Every week, individual classes from the local primary schools arrive at the clinic for a “health field trip.” Students receive a medical and dental check-up, are tested for parasites, and participate in an interactive health education class focused on basic hygiene and nutrition. In addition, every child is sent home with a toothbrush, soap, and any medication that they may need. The outreach component of the program strategically supplements the basic health lessons taught during the in-clinic visits. Our team travels to the schools and gives workshops on age-appropriate themes such as the environmental, self-esteem, domestic violence, drug addiction, and reproductive health.
The Healthy Schools project not only provides medical treatment to children who otherwise may never see a doctor, it also gives them the tools to become healthy adults.