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Brave Hearts, a pop-up exhibition, was housed in two shipping containers and had interactive elements to show the public how the heart works. It included New Zealand’s first heart and lung machine and showcased the largely untold story of New Zealand’s leading role in the evolution of heart surgery.

Wintec nursing students Luana and Hannah setting up the ‘Build a heart’ model

Wintec nursing student, Luana Toms explains she had covered most of the content in class before volunteering but teaching other students about the heart meant she was able to reinforce her own learning.

“I was able to build my confidence in health education, and cement my knowledge,” says Luana.

Wintec nursing student, Ellen Rendle adds that the exhibition was relevant and informative for high school students.

“When I was at school I found my science subjects weren’t very anatomy based, and I couldn’t relate the learnings back to myself. We learnt a lot about plants. So, explaining how the heart works and educating young people on how to be healthy was very rewarding,” says Ellen.

Wintec’s nursing students embraced this volunteering opportunity with enthusiasm and delivered education sessions to approximately 480 high school students from Hamilton, Cambridge and Ngāruawāhia.

The students facilitated 18 sessions across four weeks under the supervision of a Wintec tutor. These sessions included explaining the physiology of the heart and heart valves with the help of interactive models and guiding high school students while they worked through touchscreens that simulate heart failure, arrhythmias and heart attacks.

There was also an outdoor component, where participants could get involved with an exercise circuit and measure their heart rate, along with discussing the positive aspects of healthy eating and exercise on heart health.

Wintec nursing student, Hannah McWhannell took up the opportunity because the experience contributed towards her clinical hours and provided some real-life experience in health education.

Maria Te Huia, Senior Academic Staff Member, Centre for Health and Social Practice says: “Opportunities like this one are so valuable for nursing students. They build confidence when engaging with community members and encourage the students to share their knowledge. For the students it re-enforces the importance to grow health literacy across the life span.”

The Brave Hearts exhibition was developed by The Auckland Medical Museum Trust with support from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

Bringing Brave Hearts to Hamilton’s CBD was a collaborative effort by The Heart Trust, Waikato Health Trust, the Hamilton Central Business Association, the New Zealand School of Tourism and Wintec.

“We would like to thank Wintec enormously for their contribution to making the Brave Hearts exhibition a success. The teams from both the NZ School of Tourism and Wintec Nursing School were absolutely brilliant and we have received a lot of positive feedback about both the exhibition and the collaboration of organisations to make it available to the public,” says Vanessa Williams, General Manager, The Hamilton Central Business Association.

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