Sophomores visit the VA Medical Center for Service Learning

Sophomores visit the VA Medical Center for Service Learning

Students listen in on instructions at the VA Hospital.

On Friday, May 3, a group of sophomores visited the Jefferson Barracks division of the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center (VA Medical Center or VAMC) to participate in the Mehlville School District’s Service Learning project. The students had a busy day learning about the center and the veterans while helping with the local annual wheelchair races.

A group of sophomores and three teachers arrived at the gym at the VA Medical Center early on Friday morning and were greeted by a room filled with exercise equipment and an obstacle course designed for wheelchairs. The regional wheel chair races occur every year and are hosted by the VA Medical center, the staff and volunteers. However, due to poor weather that morning and because few veterans actually live at the medical center, only one veteran had made it to the event by the time they arrived to volunteer.

Despite the lack of veterans, and therefore a lack of volunteer work needed, the students still were able to learn about the VA Medical Center. Each student was given the opportunity to try the wheelchair obstacle course in the chair and they were given a tour of the facility.

“I was nervous,” Stephanie Lozano said about trying the obstacle course, adding that it looks harder than it actually is. “[But] once you try, you want to try again.”

As more veterans arrived, the students started talking to the participants in the games. They went on a tour of the building and saw the bowling lanes, game room and therapy rooms all accommodating veterans with physical disabilities. By the time they returned, the gym was starting to fill with men and women, most in wheelchairs, who had come to participate in the wheelchair games. The students helped set up for lunch time, putting up tables and chairs and disinfecting both, before they were provided lunch by the VA Medical Center for coming out to help.

“I thought it would be cool to work with Veterans and hear about what they did,” Antonia Frankovic (11) said, and students accomplished just that on Service Learning Friday at the VA hospital.