Details for Community Wellness & Education

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PUSD & UArizona providing a bridge between schools
This spring, approximately 22 high school students participated in a five-week service and leadership opportunity at Payson High
School. The opportunity was a program partnership between PUSD and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. The program offered service and leadership opportunities for the high school students and provided STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) enrichment for the entire third grade level at Julia Randall Elementary School.
High school students' service and leadership opportunity was given through basic training as peer mentors for younger third-grade
students. High school students were taught how to show encouragement and support to younger students by learning how to keep
them engaged in learning activities that foster growth and exploration. The students learned how to engage younger students by
being positive, proactive, and prepared. Every Friday morning for five weeks, these high school students delivered an hour of STEM
enrichment to every third-grade class at JRE. Afterward, they would then take time to reflect as a group about their experience and
how to improve in their preparation for the next week.
"The attitude of these high school students was incredible." Said Jon Hatch, Program
Coordinator in 4H Youth Development at UArizona Cooperative Extension. "Not only
did they take time to learn and lead the third graders through the curriculum, but they
owned their roles as being a positive influence for the younger students. I'm thankful
to PHS and JRE administration and staff for allowing the opportunity for this program."
The STEM curriculum that the high school students were trained in was the Mars Base
Camp curriculum. This curriculum was part of the annual 4H STEM Challenge that the
national 4H organization hosts every year. It was developed by Google and Virginia
Cooperative Extension and teaches kids skills like mechanical engineering, physics,
computer science, and agriculture. Further excitement for the program grew because
NASA successfully landed the Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18th this year.
The Perseverance is currently exploring and sending data about Mars back to NASA.
The program challenged students to explore sending a mission to Mars by participating in hands-on learning activities. The first activity included exploring the surface of
Mars by looking at a map to determine potential landing points and learning about all
the factors that lead to a successful launch and landing. The next couple of activities
involved engineering, building, and controlling a simple rover model to explore and
research the planet's surface. Finally, students learned and discussed agricultural
basics by playing a game to help determine the possibility of growing food resources
on the planet.
"The program brought value to the classroom for both the high school students and the elementary students." Said Tracy Frandsen,
a 3rd Grade Teacher at Julia Randall Elementary School. "It provided the high school with a project-based learning opportunity, as
well as exposure to a potential career in education. For the elementary students, the program allowed them to do something they
do not get to do every day. It allowed them to look to the future and be excited about the space program and allowed them to make
a connection to the nation's space exploration program. We look forward to this program continuing next year!" Three-four high
school students were assigned to each third-grade class which allowed the classes to divide into smaller groups of students for better
participation and activity engagement. It was amazing to see each classroom buzzing with learning and exploring as kids participated in the activities. The high school students did a great job keeping students engaged and on task toward learning objectives and
"During this time as an educator, I was able to see minds blossom, grow, and
strengthen. The students were able to sit down, work hands-on with the equipment, and problem solve. It truly was an amazing time watching their creativity
flow. They loved the Rover project, learning about Mars, and working with the high
schoolers." Said third-grade teacher Cassandra McCandless. Another third-grade
teacher, Kayla Perry, said," This STEM opportunity that my third-grade students got
to participate in was wonderful! Not only did it pair well with our reading unit
about space, but it also gave students an opportunity to collaborate with each
other and the older students. My students were immediately able to relate to and
get excited about the Mars Rover project when being led by teenagers- which they
can't wait to be someday. Thank you for this chance!"
Programs such as this allow young people to thrive and bring out the best in the next generation. One of the high school student
participants, Angelina Jakubek, said, "The Mars Base Camp program has allowed me to grow a lot in my interpersonal skills in such a
short amount of time. I learned a lot about myself and my boundaries. It was a great experience." Environments and programs that
foster positive development allow youth to explore sparks of interest and encourage service and leadership are so needed, especially
after the past year's challenges. Kinsey Speer, a graduating senior at Payson High School, said, "Being a peer mentor helped to realize
how much I enjoy interacting and teaching kids. It also helped me grow as a person while inspiring the next generation." The partnership hopes to extend the program into this next academic year 2021/2022, and see it grow to include more high school students and
engage more elementary age levels.
Ginger Liddell, the Marketing-DECA Advisor at Payson High School, said, "Our high school students enjoyed teaching the 3rd graders
through the UArizona Cooperative Extension program. They loved interacting and sharing their insight into the project. Some of the
students said they couldn't wait until next year when they can do it again."
To learn more about the UArizona Cooperative Extension Office, you can visit, and to learn more
about 4H Youth development programs; you can visit

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Well-being of COVID survivors still the focus
Community Spotlight with KRIM’s Randy Roberson recently chatted with Hoyt Skabelund, CEO of Banner Payson Regional Medical
Center, and program director Judy Lee and nurse Shannon Psomas about their new programs being implemented at the hospital.
Specifically, beginning in October of last year, “in the shadow of COVID,” as Skabelund describes, as many hospitals nationwide,
BPMC began transitioning more and more to outpatient care, meaning treatment that does not require an overnight stay. Benefits
to the patients from this method come in many ways. It is easier on their health in the COVID era and their wallets, accruing lower
medical billing over traditional inpatient hospital care.
“The goal is: what’s best for the patient,” Skabelund says.
The new programs seek to improve quality of life and overall quality of health. Convenience for patients in rural healthcare settings
is another critical factor being focused on by the hospital. “It is a service that hopefully leads to lives being changed for the better,”
he continues.
Program director and clinical social worker Judy Lee oversees the program and handles its emotional wellness aspects, an integral
factor to patient health. While physiological wellness is often referred to as primary in clinical health care, mental health is often
overlooked, a mistake these administrators want to correct for the betterment of the community. “We try to approach the whole
person,” explains Lee. “Rather than just the heart, or the lungs, or just breathing, so we can look at a patient staying well overall. We
try to look at the entire person, address that whole picture.”
Strictly outpatient in its scope, the program offers cardiac rehab, pulmonary (lungs) rehab, and respiratory rehab. With the unwelcome outbreak of COVID over the past year and a half, these programs have been a huge piece of what local patient’s have required.
Also offered are behavioral health services to balance the mental toll the patients endure along their health journeys. Primarily, the
program serves those 55 and older. Group, individual, and, if warranted, family services are offered to suit the needs of each patient
best. Lee explains that patients deal not only with the physical aspects of COVID symptoms and their lingering after effects, but life
changes as well, including work-related issues, family strain, social distancing related isolation, financial troubles, insurance-related
struggles, and even sometimes being uprooted by having to move amid everything. The hospital’s holistic approach helps to assist
patients by addressing all aspects of the battles they face.
Much of Lee’s work with post-COVID patients comes in the form of mutual
support in a group setting to allow for shared experiences to be exchanged.
Finding out how dietary changes or medication adjustments have helped
someone else can be enormously beneficial to honing and fine-tuning a
struggling post-COVID patient’s own experience, allowing for more comfort
and better care than they may have obtained up to that point.
“The scope is huge in terms of what COVID has done to people and what
needs to be addressed,” shares Lee.
Registered nurse Psomas helps with the clinical care, hands-on aspects of the
program, primarily cardio-pulmonary rehab services.
“While we are focusing on the heart and lung care, it is also tied in with Judy’s
side, the behavioral health, mental, emotional aspect in everything,” says
Psomas. “Everybody is treated individually. We come up with a specific plan
based on their needs. We look at their nutrition, quality of life, physical activity and ability, shortness of breath, and pain. We look at everything when
formulating the treatment plan that best suits each patient. So that way we
can work on everything as a team. Overall, COVID can wipe you out. It can
make you very weak, very tired, forgetful. The post-COVID effects can last a
long time.”

“We try to approach the whole
person,” explains Lee. “Rather
than just the heart, or the
lungs, or just breathing, so we
can look at a patient staying
well overall. We try to look at
the entire person, address that
whole picture.”
- Judy Lee,
Banner Payson Program Director and Wellness

“I think we are all ready to be done with it,” Skabelund sums up succinctly. He expresses gratitude that most of the most vulnerable,
elderly over age 75, and immunocompromised portion of the population have chosen to be vaccinated and notes that it is a step
very much in the right direction to eventually coming through the other side of the COVID pandemic.


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