At Oak Park Elementary

Sharing a message of inclusion

Louisiana Healthcare Connections presented their “No One Eats Alone” program to Oak Park Elementary fifthgraders Friday as part of an effort to share “the message of inclusion and embracing differences,” LHC spokeswoman Chelsea Graves said.

“The Beyond Differences Show,” a live interactive talk show presented by the LHC staff, introduced special guests “Inclusion” and “Social Isolation.”

Each guest shed light on their specific personality traits in an effort to help students identify the “real, tangible examples of what they look like and how they make a person feel,” Graves said.

Early exposure to the two powerful emotions is important during elementary school because social isolation is the proven precursor to bullying, she said. “Social isolation is such an underlying, subtle act. It grows over time and becomes covert or overt bullying. Bringing this awareness to this at such a young age will allow them to have a more sensitive approach in how they handle it and how they can possibly combat it.”

The talk show format was designed specifically for the young audience in an effort to capture their attention on the important topic, Graves said.

“We knew that in the age that we’re in kids seem to be more engaged with direct, in-your-face conversations.

So, we used that platform to reach them in a way where we can insert our videos, do our hands-on activities and still can continue to message around social isolation.”

“Inclusion” and “Social Isolation” bantered and butted heads on how to address individual preferences and identities eliciting both laughter and focus from the students. Throughout the event, students practiced issuing apologies, granting forgiveness and standing up for those who felt alone.

Students commented they had witnessed social isolation in classrooms, at recess, in the cafeteria often around seemingly insignificant personal differences.

“They made fund of him for reading slow,” said Jaylon Sowells. “But I told him to ignore them and just keep reading.”

Nearly every hand was raised when students were asked if they owned a smart phone with social media apps. Snap chat, Instagram and group chats are the most frequently abused technologies, Graves said.

“This is a platform for social isolation if we do not introduce it properly and give them the tools how to handle those situations.”

She advised parents to pay careful attention to their student’s attitudes and disposition, digging deeper than surface interaction in order to combat the potential dangerous effects of social isolation.

“The biggest advice that I can say to any parent is to make certain that they are in tune with their young person. It’s an uncomfortable conversation, as you saw today, many of the kids were reluctant about sharing. But as we built rapport and a sense of trust they were more fluent in sharing.”

Throughout the presentation the show’s two guest shared how intimately connected physical health and emotional health can be.

“Social Isolation” said her powers go far beyond mere feelings. “You really underestimated me!” she taunted “Inclusion.” “I can make you physically sick! A headache, stomach ache — a lot of times that’s me rearing my ugly head.”

However, with positive, open dialogue with parents, teachers and administrators, individual can make healthy physical and mental health decisions and can rely on LHC for assistance through its “coordinated care” efforts, Graves said. “It’s a care management model that we have in place to address physical as well as mental health needs.”

To take advantage of the mental health assistance, she advised plan members to simply “ask” and “share” what they’re experiencing with their health care providers. “We want to expose our local communities about how important it is to be aware of self, see when it manifests itself and not just blindly pass it by.”

””

Special guests “Inclusion” and “social Isolation” share their favorite activities and past times with Oak Park Elementary School fifth-grade students on the set of the “Beyond Differences Show.”

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