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Bold step! Foga Road High School tests student athletes before they particIpate in sporting activities

Published:Thursday | November 17, 2016 | 12:00 AMShanique Samuels
A student undergoes tests at Foga Road High School.

MAY PEN, Clarendon:

The Foga Road High School in Clarendon is taking steps to ensure that students who participate in sporting activities are subjected to mandatory health screening. Principal Kerinth Campbell has indicated that students will not be allowed to participate if they are not given a clean bill of health by a medical doctor.

Campbell alluded to the recent deaths of school athletes who collapsed on the field of play as the ultimate driving force for her decision. "I believe these deaths have propelled parents to be more conscious of what we have long been saying," she said.

The principal told Rural Xpress, "Since 2014, we have continued to promote the need to have proper health screenings for our student athletes, and at our request, Dr Paul Wright, medical practitioner, Sports Medicine at the Heart Foundation, and his team of three visited the Foga Road High School to conduct tests on the student athletes, following several consultations with both the parents and athletes."

This follows several forms of communications, with parents and athletes pointing out the need to avail themselves of a more detailed type of examination. She said the regular yearly school medical examinations are insufficient to determine the fitness of students to engage in rigorous sporting activities throughout the entire school year.

The team did a comprehensive examination on each of the 40 student athletes, testing for diabetes and haemoglobin as well as pressure and stress tests. Other tests included, but were not limited to, ECG, cholesterol, vision and urine tests which were also done along with the students completing a pre-participation questionnaire.

Several issues

Dr Wright and his team identified several issues that were a cause for concern, especially among the boys, and will be doing the necessary referrals and follow-up with parents. At the end of screening, he concluded that students were playing in too many matches over a short period of time and the coaches and parents were not taking the necessary precautions regarding students' health.

"Attention needs to be paid to the complaints of students. They should be properly screened as I discovered that students with specific problems are still allowed to compete in matches. If the child/patient comes to you a second time with the same complaint and conditions, admit (hospital) and treat them," he stressed.

"Parents, you must see this programme as an ounce of prevention, and I am appealing to you to take an interest in your children's health. My long-term vision and desire is for the entire student population on a yearly basis to have a detailed and specialised examination of this nature," she said, as she extend condolences to her colleague principals, staff and parents of those institutions that have experienced the loss of student athletes.

The school has engaged the Heart Foundation to train 16 members of staff in first aid and CPR as part of its mission to ensure they have competent first responders for emergencies.