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Community connections lead to invaluable opportunities for ASU nursing students

ASU nursing students talk with a Crossroads resident during a Health Fair

ASU nursing students Sienna Yturriaga (left) and Madeline Aaron (right) discuss healthy eating with Crossroads Flower resident Maza Wasi at a student-run health fair at the facility on June 11, 2019.

June 18, 2019

Health wasn’t something Maza Wasi ever thought about. But the young resident of Crossroads Flower, a licensed substance abuse treatment center in Phoenix, says she’s starting to become more interested in it.

“I’m here to change my life and have a better life one day instead of doing drugs,” Wasi said.

Helping to introduce her to elements of self-care and overall wellness were eight students from Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

The cohort was at the Crossroads facility last week hosting a health fair for the residents who all are working toward recovery. It was the culmination of serious hard work on the students' part that spanned two semesters, and it paid off.

“Seeing this and having the students explain it to me was great because I learn by seeing,” Wasi said.

Over the course of the afternoon, Wasi and more than a dozen other residents stopped in to visit with the students and learn about each of the subjects, which were specifically chosen for the women.

“We focused on four topics; exercise, nutrition, sexual health and community beautification," said senior nursing student Randy Wagman. "We felt that these really targeted those areas that maybe Crossroads wasn’t focusing on. So we are looking at providing additional resources and information which could help them succeed here and maybe remaining sober going forward."

This event came about through community-health focused nursing courses. Students who take these interprofessional classes are tasked with identifying a group in the community who would benefit from additional education and resources around disease prevention and health promotion.

Thanks in large part to Edson College connections the cohort was able to partner and work with Crossroads — which doesn’t just open its doors to anyone — to create and host this health fair for current residents.

“ASU does provide unique opportunities in Phoenix. The relationships ASU has with not-for-profits and other organizations are great because they allow us to be able to go to these facilities and see how we can help and what we can do as nursing students,” Wagman said.

These health fairs also give students the opportunity to interact with people of all different ages, backgrounds and health levels while focusing on the education aspect of nursing versus just the clinical component.

Or as Wagman put it, it’s a return to the root of nursing, and it's quite rewarding.

“The basis of nursing is to promote health and prevent disease and really that begins with the community and doing community-centered interventions and that’s where prevention begins as well. So thanks to this class, we get to see what we need to do to get those prevention measures out there to keep people healthier.”

The women of Crossroads who attended the health fair offered high praise for the students' efforts to make the event interactive, informative and for taking an interest in Crossroads to begin with.

“What they’re doing is important and it's helping the community. It’s giving back, paying it forward I would say. I appreciate them coming out, they’ve been awesome,” said Crossroads resident Stephanie (last name withheld).

“This is amazing and it makes me feel like they do care about others. You know this is beyond just a school project,” Wasi said.

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