ST. LOUIS - Hula dancing, singing, lays, themed photos and the crowning of a Luau King and Queen are just a few of the things that teens prepared for residents at Mercy Skilled Nursing. As part of their final project, 50 teen volunteers who are part of Mercy’s Teens Learning in the Community (TLC) program planned a fun, luau dance for residents at Mercy Skilled Nursing.
With fewer summer jobs available, high school and college students are looking for other ways to increase their skills and knowledge about possible career interests. At Mercy, an innovative summer volunteer program called Teens Learning in the Community (TLC) combines education and service by offering high school and college-age students, 16 years and older, interested in a health care career an opportunity to learn more about different options in the field. It fosters a commitment to volunteering, offers valuable insight into a variety of health care professions and experience in multiple areas of the hospital.
The students learn to work as a team to complete a project to improve the care of Mercy patients. This experience also cultivates a sense of leadership, team building and confidence in the participants. They interact with medical professionals, explore non-clinical positions and each day have a “Lunch and Learn” lecture where guest speakers share information about specific jobs at Mercy.
The TLC Volunteers spend part of each day assisting Mercy co-workers rotating through many patient care areas helping where needed and also simply providing a listening ear during a stressful time in a patient’s life. Each day, the teens will have a different job, different responsibilities and a different experience.
"I knew I was interested in medicine, but didn't know what area," said Tony Ragusa, 17, of Wentzville, Mo. "The program allowed me to get into a variety of areas in the hospital. I was able to shadow nurses and techs and see what they do in real-life, not just on TV. Fortunately, I learned I really like the fast-paced environment of the ER so I hope to go on to become a doctor or physician assistant in the ER."
Special projects are planned throughout the TLC session to show the teens the importance of patient compassion and interaction in the medical field. This year’s project is a Luau Dance for the residents of Mercy Skilled Nursing. Through the Luau, the TLC volunteers are able to celebrate with Mercy patients, while learning more about medicine in a non-threatening and educational environment. The Luau teaches the TLC volunteers that an illness or diagnosis does not define a patient; rather the whole person must be considered for successful treatment.
Using their natural skills and talents, the teens developed a program including two live musical performances, a live dance routine, craft projects with the residents and the crowning of a Luau King and Queen. The students spent the month of June making personalized “Message in a Bottle” invitations, creating custom Luau-themed BINGO cards, and creating the photo back drop and all decorations for the event. In addition, they have hosted many practice sessions to perfect their performance of Jason Mraz’s song I’m Yours, and their dance routine to Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride from the movie Lilo and Stitch.
For more information about TLC, please click here.