Students visit nursing homes to honor veterans

Published 5:24 pm Monday, November 13, 2017

Several students from Unaka High School spent part of their day on Friday visiting local veterans in nursing homes.

A group of 14 students in the Health Occupations Students of America, Future Business Leaders of America, and the Key Club organizations visited Signature HealthCARE of Elizabethton (formerly known as Pine Ridge Nursing Home) and Life Care of Elizabethton.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We decided we wanted to do something to give back to those who have served our country,” said Kayla Clawson, who teaches the health occupations class and serves as the Key Club adviser at Unaka High.

At Signature HealthCARE, the students presented a Veterans Day program to the residents with several students speaking during the presentation. The students closed out their program by singing Amazing Grace and many of the residents and staff members at the facility joined in the song.

After the program, the students then presented gifts to six veterans who are currently residing at Signature HealthCARE.

The students handmade fidget aprons for the veterans.

Fidget aprons can be worn by patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia and feature a variety of items such as zippers, small toys, buttons, snaps, and other things that the patient can “fidget” with.

“They increase sensory stimulation and provide comfort,” said Kayla Clawson, who teaches the Health Occupations program at Unaka High School. “It provides a distraction, but it is a good distraction. If they are agitated, it allows them to refocus their mind and decrease the agitation.”

Earlier this year, the students delivered fidget aprons to other nursing facilities, but the ones they presented on Friday morning to the veterans were a bit different.

“These were made specifically for veterans,” said Dr. Melissa Loveless, who teaches business technology and serves as the FBLA sponsor at Unaka High. November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, which Loveless said made it the perfect time to deliver the aprons.

The aprons presented to the veterans were made in red, white, and blue with a patriotic theme.

Before leaving the facility on Friday, each of the students took time to speak to each of the veterans and to thank them for their service to their country.

Signature HealthCARE CEO Debbie Street thanked the students for coming to give the presentation and gifts to the veterans.

“This means a lot for young people to recognize we need to honor our veterans,” Street said.