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Students learn to recognize the signs of a stroke

Grade 1 students at Woodcrest Public School now know what to do if their loved ones are having a stroke.

THUNDER BAY -- Grade 1 students at Woodcrest Public School now know what to do if their loved ones are having a stroke.

On Wednesday, the class graduated from the FAST Heroes program, which teaches children about the symptoms of a stroke and the need to act quickly.

“We’re really trying to get the children to understand a stroke and what they might see in their grandparents and also what to do if that happens,” said Keli Cristofaro, the stroke community engagement specialist at the Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network.

“There has been a lot of research done that most grandparents are involved with their grandchildren, whether it be with after-school care or daycare, or just spending quality time together.

“The average age of a stroke patient is 70 years old and with that, we know that a grandchild might experience seeing a grandparent having a stroke.”

In the program, which combines animation with lesson plans, students learn about certain symptoms of a stroke, such as a drooping face, a weak arm and broken speech.

Grade 1 teacher Janine Andraka said that FAST Heroes not only fits in with the curriculum, but it also can be implemented outside the classroom.

“They bring those lessons home and they are super excited, because they get to be the teachers,” Andraka said.

“It’s a skill that will carry on throughout their whole life and potentially have an impact to save somebody.”

During Wednesday’s graduation ceremony, students also got a chance to tour an ambulance.

“A lot of times when we go to calls, we definitely see some kids who get nervous or are a little bit anxious when they see us,” Superior North EMS primary care paramedic Brooke Basaraba said.

“I think when they are able to see us out in public with the ambulance and go inside to check it out, it just lets them know that we are a friendly face. We’re there to help and we are not really anything to be scared of.”

FAST Heroes began in 2019 with the Lakehead District School Board being involved in the pilot program. In that time, five schools and 234 students have taken part in the initiative.

The program has received seed funding to expand to 100 classrooms across the country this spring.

More information about the program can be found by visiting the FAST Heroes website.

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