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The Respiratory Therapy program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College conducted a service learning project for fourth-grade students at Allen Elementary School earlier this month. Second-year students in the Respiratory Therapy program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College participated in a service-learning activity earlier this month with fourth-grade students at Allen Elementary School in Floyd County.

The students developed age-appropriate activities focusing on healthy hearts, healthy lungs and smoking/tobacco prevention. They also witnessed an interactive demonstration of how blood flows through the heart; made pinwheels to simulate movement associated with healthy lungs; and used straws and cotton balls to test their own airflow.

Visiting our schools allow our students to take what they are learning and apply it to children to promote health and wellness, said Melissa Skeens, program coordinator for respiratory therapy at BSCTC. While our students will work with those struggling with respiratory care, they can also educate the younger generation on preventative measures to stay healthy.

Felicia Dotson, a student in the respiratory therapy program, said she loved the positive influence her and her classmates had with the students.

If one child decided they will never smoke, or decided they will encourage someone they know to quit, then it was worth it, she said. This has been one of my favorite experiences of this program.

The day ended with a game of Big Ciggie, a sad cigarette that the group passed around like hot potato. However, in this game, if a student is holding Big Ciggie when the music ends, he or she made a decision and must proceed to the hospital. The winner is the one remaining who made the best decision to not smoke.

We work hard to put things in a childs perspective, said Skeens. Also, we realize some of these children may have parents or loved ones who are smoking, and we hope they may be able to persuade those individuals to quit and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on the respiratory therapy program, contact Skeens at (606) 788-2822 or email