Norman, Spectrum team up

REED CITY — There were many smiles, a lot of laughter and, admittedly, a few tears Thursday night (Oct. 20) when Reed City’s Norman Elementary School held its monthly Family Night activities.

In actuality, the combination of offering not only fun, but also flu shots thanks to the teamwork of Norman and Spectrum Health/Reed City Hospital, may save a whole lot of tears come flu season.

Hundreds of people were on hand for a chance to not only have a meal with friends and family, then spend time with the therapy dogs brought in for the event and taking part in math activities through games and puzzles and other activities, but also line up and receive free flu shots.

Granted, there were a few anxious moments, but one little guy who pulled his jacket up around his ears and with tears glistening in his eyes as he feared getting his shot, soon dissipated when a nurse told him that as soon as he was done, he could have a piece of candy and a sticker.

He marched right over, pulled up his sleeve, sat down and got that free flu shot over and done with. Then he stood close by, armed with his sticker and candy, and quietly watched as another youngster, very likely his big brother, took his turn.

In addition to setting up and staffing four stations for administering flu shots, Spectrum provided staff and volunteers to register others and pass out free T-shirts. Still another activity which found many participants was the staffing of, as one little girl declared, “real life doctors and nurses, and she stitched up a teddy bear! I saw her do it!”

They were “for real” staff too, giving children a chance to interact by bringing along a stuffed toy for the “bear clinic” that was held in various “examining rooms.” Those who didn’t have one to bring along or didn’t remember their own, were promptly given a stuffed toy. When they entered the “examining room,” they were asked by the “for reals” what the illness or injury the little critter had been brought in to have treated.

One boy said his dolphin broke his tail. “Here?” The doctor carefully touched a spot on the bright blue toy dolphin. “No,” the child said, and promptly showed him where. The doctor then suggested perhaps the boy could help him wrap that sore area with gauze.

At another spot, a little girl with a small polar bear said it needed new stitches. And the lady helping her, promptly stitched up the little critter’s leg. One little girl entered with her toy. Sat down. Shyly stared at the professional across from her.

When asked what was wrong with the fuzzy animal, she said, “Nothing.” The doctor suggested maybe they were there just for a checkup. She nodded. He looked it all over, listened carefully for its heartbeat, and announced it really seemed to be in very good health. The little girl thanked him with a smile. Added a thank you. And left looking very relieved.

A focus on math was also part of the evening’s activities, and following a meal, the youngsters and their families went to first see the doctor in many cases, then moved into the gym where they played games, made Halloween “spider hats,” patted and talked with the therapy dogs brought in for the evening, and had fun mingling with friends.

The November Family Night will find families heading for the roller rink in Big Rapids. Last year there were so many families wanting to take part, those who had been there were asked to let those who had never been attend instead because there were about 600 hoping to go, and much less that could be in that building.

This year, Norman has scheduled two nights for skating, and that information will be sent home with children well in advance, and provided for publication as well.