BAGHDAD - Everyone knows that when you're sick you go to the doctor; however, there are many things that can be done to prevent illness in the first place. These preventive measures, such as practicing good personal hygiene, were the focus of a health fair that Soldiers from Company E, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment and Co. C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, both of whom are part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted for students at the Al Aflaph Elementary School in Salhiyah Dec. 3.

"We're here with a couple of people from 15th BSB's preventive medicine section teaching the local children and teachers how to stay healthy in Iraq - keeping germs down, brushing your teeth, just general public health," Co. E, 1-5 Cav. commander and Butler, Pa. native, Capt. Greg Turner said. "It's just basically something to help better the community."

A group of about 30 students attended a presentation given by Sgt. Danielle Stephens, a Preventive Medicine specialist, while a group of teachers received a similar presentation from the brigade's Preventive Medicine officer, 1st Lt. Gabrielle Caldara.

"We talked about bacteria and viruses - especially the importance of hand washing. Hand washing is the first defense in helping with any illness," Stephens, who is originally from Phoenix, said.

Several other topics were also discussed during the presentation to include: brushing your teeth daily, healthy eating habits, and the dangers of mosquitoes and rabid animals.

Stephens said that by offering the presentation to the teachers as well as the students, she and Caldara hope that it ensures they will have the information they needed to help the students follow up on what they learned.

"It's kind of like a train-the-trainer," Stephens said. "They will be able to continue on with the training with the kids and teach them how to wash their hands and things like that."

Along with the presentation Stephens also handed out several items such toothpaste and hand sanitizer to the children.

She said that while she has given similar types of presentations to American school children, this was the first time she has done this in Iraq.

"I love working with the kids," she said. "This has probably been one of the most enjoyable experiences that I've had here. Kids are the same everywhere, whether they are in Iraq or the United States."

Stephens also mentioned that she was surprised by the level of knowledge that the students already had, as they successfully answered question after question that she posed to them.

"They're very aware - especially of rabies," she said. "Some of the questions I asked about rabies and some of the pictures that we showed, they knew exactly what it was before I told them. So they're very aware of what their environment is and what it takes to keep themselves safe; they're pretty smart kids.

"If you can touch one or two and the fact that they're kids and their young - when you start young hopefully when they get older, they'll keep it -- especially in regards to recycling and some of the more important things they need here in Iraq."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16