Teaching Children about Lyme Disease Video and Transcript
Nancy A. Shadick, MD, MPH
Director, Lyme Disease Prevention Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Feel, Find, Free Program – Teaching Children about Lyme Disease
At Brigham and Women's Hospital, we have a very effective and interesting Lyme disease prevention program targeted towards children. Children ages five to nine have the highest rate of Lyme disease. We created the Feel, Find, Free Program, which is an in-class educational presentation given in elementary schools, to teach children about the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, why it's important to take precautions to avoid tick bites, and how to recognize and remove a tick.
The interactive program uses models and actual dead ticks on mannequin arms. We give the children cues to take action including a tick check shower card to hang in their house and a tick dock card, which is a card where children can tape a tick onto an index card and note the time and the place where the tick was removed from their bodies. These cues to action remind the children to take precautions.
We also give them fun homework assignments, such as creating a model landscape of a yard that will prevent ticks. We give them find the tick pictures and lots of other interactive puzzles and games that make it fun for them to start thinking about their environment and how they can take tick bite precautions.
We did this program on the North Shore of Massachusetts in 19 elementary schools. We found that the program was effective in improving their knowledge, increasing their attitude, and self-reported practice of precautionary behaviors. They also had an improvement in what we call self-efficacy, which is their sense of confidence that they can find a tick, which has been shown in numerous studies to increase the chance that they will take tick bite precautions.