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Nursing Students Gain Experience at Special Olympics NY Winter Games


Sophomores from Cayuga Community College volunteered their time and talent at last week’s Special Olympics New York Winter Games.

The students, enrolled in the college’s nursing program, were at the Oncenter in Syracuse to offer advice and suggestions to athletes about how to best take care of themselves and prepare for their next competitions. They also operated health stations to measure competitors’ BodyMass Indexes (BMI) and blood pressure.

“The biggest thing that we talked about and focused on was good nutrition, letting the athletes know the importance of nutrition and exercise. A lot of the athletes knew about nutrition and some of the other topics, but some didn’t,” said Kimberly Ann Cespedes, a sophomore. “Nursing is education — we have to be ready to educate others. Wherever we go with our nursing careers, we’re going to have to educate the people we are helping, so this was a good moment for us to develop that skill.”

Fellow sophomore, Tonya Parks, called the day rewarding.

“It’s wonderful to see the spotlight on the athletes and how much they enjoy it. For us, it’s great to get to work with the athletes and build our experience working as a member of a team,” said Parks. “We talked with them, heard about the training they do for the Games, what they won and their lives outside of the Games. That in particular made it a very rewarding day.”

Associate Professor and Nursing Lab Coordinator Edie Smith coordinates students participating in both the summer and winter games. She said it gives participating students practical experience working the the developmentally disabled.

“Special Olympics has provided an excellent opportunity for our students to interact with individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, learn about this patient population, and have experience they will carry into their nursing practice,” said Smith. “Along with preparing our students, this will lead to better quality of care for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

This marked the third year CCC’s nursing program has volunteered at the games.



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