UCF College of Nursing students assigned to the college’s Community Nursing Coalitions (CNCs) for Flagler and Daytona participated in Flagler County’s First Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Bunnell, Fla. on February 6, 2010.

The student nurses partnered with the Flagler County Health Department to provide six health promotion and prevention booths at the event. These booths consisted of stroke education, H1N1 vaccinations, dental care, blood pressure screening, proper handwashing demonstrations, and STD/HIV education.

The event was part of a targeted effort, called The Red Butterfly Project, which is a subcommittee of the Focus on Flagler Youth Coalition. The Red Butterfly Project is funded by the Advocates for Youth, Youth of Color Initiative and aims to reduce the incidence of STDs, HIV and teen pregnancy among young women of color through outreach, education and community endeavors. Only five communities in the U.S. received funding to address health disparity issues among underserved populations.

Ariana Gross and Sarah Landreville, nursing instructors on UCF’s Daytona Beach campus and coordinators of the CNCs for Flagler and Daytona respectively, supervised the student nurses at the event. Gross, who is board-certified as a sexual assault nurse examiner, will also help The Red Butterfly Project develop curriculum that will be used to educate teens on sexual violence. “We believe this project will positively impact the community as well as provide our students with the understanding that through health education and promotion they can change lives,” Gross explained.

Danielle Cortese, a junior in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program at UCF Daytona agreed, “This experience has left me with a greater compassion and understanding of the citizens in underserved communities. In areas of lower socioeconomic status, such as Bunnell, events of this nature are extremely beneficial to the citizens, and I now have a better understanding of the factors that affect health care.”

The CNCs for Flagler and Daytona have been involved in several activities from the Focus on Flagler Youth Coalition since the summer of 2009. These initiatives, along with The Red Butterfly Project, coincide with the service-learning components of the curriculum at UCF College of Nursing.

Students enrolled in the BSN program on UCF’s Orlando, Cocoa and Daytona campuses spend their first and last semesters assigned to a CNC. Each CNC is supervised by a UCF College of Nursing faculty member and is comprised of 12-15 nursing students. The student nurses receive important “real-world” education while working in public schools, community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, and senior centers – to name just a few. There they provide vital health education and screenings to some of Central Florida’s most economically disadvantaged residents. UCF College of Nursing currently has 16 CNCs actively serving Brevard, Flagler, Orange, Seminole, and Volusia counties.

Focus on Flagler Youth Coalition was established in January 2003 to raise awareness and prevent tobacco, alcohol and other drug use among the youth. Its mission is to support and create initiatives to achieve growth and fulfillment for Flagler youth, by supporting programs that have provided educational outlets for both the youth and parents to aid in improving their relationships. By collaborating amongst local schools and health departments, Focus on Flagler Youth Coalition strives to build a stronger community.

Contributing writer: Kristin Soto, UCF College of Nursing communications intern