MAILED: June 28, 2000
The National Youth Sports Program is underway at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for the 20th consecutive year.
The program offers boys and girls ages 10-16 from the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls area the opportunity to learn sports skills, to participate in sports competition and to improve their physical fitness. The program also includes an academic component, offering activities in math, science and health.
One of the special services provided through NYSP is the administration of free medical examinations for the participants. Each child is required to have a physical exam before participation in the program.
"Some receive exams from private health care providers and a little more than half of the participants take advantage of the NYSP physicals," said Karen Maddox, NYSP medical coordinator.
Maddox, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, has been coordinating the physicals and serving as the NYSP nurse for nearly 15 years.
The physicals are administered by students in the School of Nursing as part of their course work. Nurses from the community also volunteer their time to help with the program.
"The exams include vision and hearing screening as well as fairly extensive interviews with the children," Maddox said. "The interviews let us find out what is going on with the kids at home and allow us to better meet their individual needs," she said.
"Each exam takes about one and a half hours to complete, and the School of Nursing conducts about 300," Maddox said.
"The physicals are treated as a learning opportunity for the children," she said. "We try to help the children understand their bodies and the importance of nutrition and exercise as we conduct the exams."
"The administration of the physicals is a great learning experience for the nursing students and the volunteer nurses as well," Maddox said.
"They learn how to talk to children and how to teach them about health. They also gain a better understanding of the health care needs within the community as a whole, because the kids represent the entire community."
The NYSP project at UW-Eau Claire was recognized this year as one of the best NYSP programs in the country with a Meritorious Award.
It has received this award seven times since 1988 and twice has earned the Silvio O. Conte Award of Excellence as the top program in the nation.
NYSP continues on campus through July 14.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 29, 2000