CQUniversity professor Kerry Reid-Searle has created an inventive method to teach kids about gut health.
CQUniversity professor Kerry Reid-Searle has created an inventive method to teach kids about gut health.

Crappy topic, but it's a poo-fect time to talk kid's health

KERRY Reid-Seale considers herself "a bit of a nutty professor". But it is her outside the box thinking that has created an inventive manner for kids to be aware of their bowel health.

The former paediatric nurse and CQUniversity professor created Poop-it Kit to address the 30 per cent of children who experience bowel issues. Of this contingent, she said, a quarter become adults with poor gut health.

Prof Reid-Searle's experience in nursing allowed her to see what engaged kids and what did not. That experience enabled her to devise a framework she believes will encourage them to be aware of their health long-term.

"I think one of the things for me is I find the inner child remains within - I can look at ideas from a child's perspective," Prof Reid-Searle said.

"If we can get children to be aware of their gut health and the association of what poos mean in a fun and engaging way, that's fantastic.

"We have an obligation to start addressing this topic, that is sometimes forbidden, with children."

Stories, posters and characters will all come together - among other stimulus - in the kit, which will portray the health messages in a vibrant way children "take notice of".

It was not just physical health that was a concern for kids, Prof Reid-Searle said. Her time as a nurse taught her there were psychosocial issues that stemmed from bowel conditions.

"You imagine children with bowel related issues at school where there is incontinence of faeces or constipation, what that then does in terms of isolation … and the embarrassment, it all leads into the psychosocial wellbeing of people," she said.

"Learning difficulties and challenges come from isolation from school and not wanting to go to school because of faecal incontinence."

The kit is still in its infancy, after Prof Reid-Searle received a small grant to pilot the project.

But she said this was just the beginning, and based on the profound interest she had received, she was hopeful of acquiring a larger grant to roll it out nationwide.



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