As part of the Rites of Spring for Norfolk General Hospital, volunteers and staff welcome approximately 600, grade one students from 20 elementary schools within Norfolk County. Children are invited to be a part of a 60-minute educational tour which introduces them to our warm and friendly hospital. This ritual has been going on for over fifty years!
The tours take place almost every afternoon in May and are led by trained volunteer guides who look forward to this very special time every year. “I often think that I have heard all of the possible questions from this amazing group of children, however, each year, new and better informed questions come along.”
The tour opens with a fun little ditty called the “Boogie Woogie Washer Woman song”, in which Infection Control staff and volunteer guides encourage the children to sing and dance their way through a presentation to reinforce the importance of hand-washing and the use of hand sanitizers.
Curious six and seven even year old learners with their teachers and parent chaperones, visit five departments within the hospital. A number of the parent volunteers remember their tours and recall the significant impact the experience had on them.
Visiting five fully operational department’s means that children are given an insightful look at the normal daily activities of the hospital such as patients being brought into the hospital by para-medics, food and laundry carts moving through the halls and patients and visitors constantly on the move.
Volunteer guides skillfully maneuver groups of children through diagnostic imaging where they view actual x-rays and get to meet Mr. Bones, a well-preserved skeleton. “Where did Mr. Bones’ skin go?” is one of the best questions. If there is a newborn in the hospital the day of the tour, children will get an opportunity to meet the new baby from a safe distance and learn all about the obstetrics. This visit often sparks some interesting questions!
The visit through surgical day care is specifically aimed at reassuring children of the safe and friendly environment within the hospital. In-patient physiotherapy allows children to observe patients regaining their strength after an injury or surgery. Nutrition information and a tour of the huge kitchen give children a greater sense of the enormity of the food preparation and the need for healthy and nutritious foods for both patients and staff.
Grade ones complete their tour with a tasty snack in the cafeteria and thank their volunteer tour guides for showing them our local community hospital. It’s a great learning experience for area children and the perfect way to introduce children to a hospital through a positive experience. Thank you to all the staff that is so welcoming to students entering their units and thank you to the many volunteers who lend their time to this annual event. This is an adventure our grade one visitors will remember for years to come.
Michele Grant, Volunteer Convenor-Grade One Tours
Jason Harnett, Communications Development Officer