Healthcare Champions for Clean Air Program: Air Monitoring and Community Practice (Part Two)
Although Hong Kong’s air quality has slightly improved in recent years, Hong Kong is still in the process of improving the air quality. Staying at semi-confined public transport interchanges, or crossing busy traffic roads is likely to make us feel sick, inducing headache and coughs. Air pollution has a significant impact on our health, while vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and students, are more seriously affected.
Students from the Hong Kong Metropolitan University School of Nursing and Health Studies, who participated in Healthcare Champions for Clean Air, were divided into ten groups, each went to a community and conducted air monitoring at five locations. They then designed activities according to the nature and needs of their audience, such as presentations, workshops or games, to explain air pollution and provide practical advice for them to reduce exposure to air pollutants.
One of the student groups cooperated with the Pneumoconiosis Mutual Aid Association (Tuen Mun Branch), to organize a seminar with the theme “I decide the air quality around me”. By sharing the experience of taking care of pneumoconiosis patients in the hospital, the students explained the impacts of air pollution, and the importance of quitting smoking. Finally, the students taught the patients how to make bamboo charcoal packages, to improve the air quality around them and remind them to reduce exposure to sources of pollution.
Elderly people are also greatly affected by air pollution. Exposure to high levels of air pollution increases the risk of developing respiratory diseases, and worsens existing chronic illnesses. Therefore, it is essential to teach the elderly how to avoid air pollutants, and remind them to choose staying in areas with better air quality.
Another student group cooperated with CCC Tam Lee Lai Fun Memorial Secondary School to organize a workshop for the elderly living in Tuen Mun district, with the topic “Breathing exercise helps you”. The elderly were very engaged and actively participated. The students were delighted that the elderly were able to figure out some highly polluted locations near the area in which they live. The students also reflected that this experience was invaluable and useful for their planning of elderly activities in the future.
Apart from patient groups and the elderly, the nursing students also connected with three schools, to hold seminars for students. They hoped to increase students’ awareness of air pollution issues and generate long-term behavior changes such as selecting cleaner routes to walk or cycle to school.
One of the student groups cooperated with TWGHs Wong Fut Nam College, to hold a seminar on the topic “Air Pollution and Health”. The nursing students analyzed the sources of air pollution, and compared the air pollution policies in Hong Kong and mainland China. Then, they asked the students to propose some feasible ways to improve air quality, from the perspectives of schools and individuals. Most of the students attending the seminar have been studying chemistry, and they were interested in understanding the structure and formation of air pollutants. Therefore, they participated actively in the Q&A session.
Another group cooperated with Our Lady of China Catholic Primary School, to organize a workshop entitled “Hazardous Air Pollution”. They started the workshop with a game that introduced air pollution issues. Students were highly engaged and answered the questions proactively. They even wanted the nursing students to stay longer to further explain air pollution issues.
Another group cooperated with CCC Tam Lee Lai Fun Secondary School, to organize a seminar entitled “Assemble and Cheer Up” which taught F.4 students about air pollution. They had a quiz to test students’ understanding on air pollution. Students were very engaged and answered the questions proactively. They also marked down key points from the presentation. We believe that the students have learned a lot in the seminar.
All student groups have completed the air monitoring and community practices. Their performance will be evaluated by their coaches and the representative of the service users. Groups with good performance would be awarded, including the most creative group, the most interactive group and the most cooperative group.