First Step, Inc.
First Step, Inc. acknowledges that the health and physical well-being of the students that we serve directly affects their ability to learn. As research has shown, childhood obesity increases the incidence of adult diseases occurring in children and adolescents such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The increased risk carries forward into their adulthood. Research indicates that a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help prevent obesity and the diseases resulting from it. First Step, Inc. is keenly aware that the eating habits and exercise patterns of our students cannot be changed overnight, but at the same time the board of directors believes that it is necessary to strive to create a healthy and safe environment that consistently promotes good nutrition and physical activity.
The problem of obesity and inactivity is a public health issue. First Step, Inc. accepts the responsibility to our students to promote good nutrition, which will include whole grain rich foods and fresh fruits and vegetables, and physical activity programs. First Step, Inc. is dedicated to the students we serve and accepts the responsibility of improving the school nutrition environment, promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity. Therefore, First Step, Inc. will adhere to the Arkansas Rules Governing Nutrition and Physical Activity Standards in Arkansas Public Schools.
It is our policy that all students will receive the maximum amount of physical activity that their physical disability will allow.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The school nurse’s primary focus is to promote wellness and disease prevention by early identification of hidden health problems that interfere with learning. The school nurse is on duty during school hours. She is available to the students who become ill or injured during school hours and will contact a parent/guardian when the situation warrants. Parent/guardian(s) are encouraged to contact the school nurse with any questions or concerns they might have regarding their child’s health and safety at school.
Hearing Screenings and Evaluations
Each center at First Step, Inc. has the ability to screen or evaluate the hearing of individuals, whose ages are between birth and adulthood. We have contracted with an audiologist for services for the past 15 years. Through the use of an audiometer and a tympanometer we are able to screen pure-tone air conduction hearing and determine the possibility of a referral to the primary care physician for middle ear problems. Utilizing the audiometers during this time speech pathologists and our audiologist have screened our consumers and referred them for further evaluation by our audiologist, observation by their primary care physician (PCP) or ear, nose and throat physicians (ENT). A part of that screening process is an observation of the middle ear and the movement of the eardrum (tympanic membrane). Tympanometry is helpful in diagnosing otitis media (ear infections, middle ear fluid) and distinguishing a sensorineural and a conductive hearing loss.
Some years after our audiologist came to First Step we ordered a sound proof booth to be able to evaluate more thoroughly the hearing of our consumers. We have VRA (visual reinforcement audiometry) capability which is used for screening the hearing of children who are 6 months through 2 years of age. The children are trained to look at the sound source. The children will receive a visual reinforcement for the correct acknowledgement of the sound source.
The most recent purchase for First Step has been an OAE (otoacoustic emissions) for each center which enables audiology assistants , audiologists, speech pathologists and nurses to screen every consumer who enrolls at First Step. The audiologist trains each of these staff members on how to operate this equipment. Otoacoustic emissions screens the hearing to the cochlea hair cells and the consumer does not have to make a physiological response. This screener is able to determine outer ear canal blockage, and the presence of middle ear fluid and possible damage to the outer hair cells in the cochlea. This equipment was utilized while First Step was working with two local hospitals, National Park Medical Hospital and Hot Spring County Medical Hospital, during the pilot project of the Newborn Hearing Screening in Arkansas. Our speech pathologists , audiologist and audiology assistant provided round the clock hearing screens to all of the newborns in those hospitals giving us a wonderful rapport with the staffs of those facilities which ensured better services for their consumers. When an infant failed the hearing screen at the hospital then they were usually referred through their pediatrician to First Step for further evaluation and treatment.
Through First Step’s commitment to providing quality care in the area of hearing and organizations such as the Hot Springs Community Foundation we have been able to purchase the equipment needed to provide such services. First Step has taken the lead in providing superior care for hearing issues in the communities we serve.