If Attention Wanders in Health Class, Nurse Has Some Pleasant Remedies

Meredith Meals, an Army combat nurse, was trying to scare up singers for her production in Vietnam of "South Pacific," a morale-building production that also produced a husband. "He auditioned, and later we were married," she said. That was long ago and far away, but Meals' creativity continues today as an elementary school nurse in the Los Alamitos School District where her nursing acumen, theatrics and puppets in the "Kingdom of Healthy Habits" teach youngsters good health habits.

"The children love it and I love it," said Meals, 44, also a performer for the Long Beach Civic Light Opera Assn. "This is a better way for me to get the message across to children. I sing, the puppets sing and the children sing."

Beside original songs and skits to focus on nutrition, substance abuse, communicable diseases, hygiene and dental care, Meals presents a show called "Bruce Learns About Asthma." The comprehensive program with five puppet characters, developed for the Los Angeles Lung Assn., deals with self-responsibility for the chronic disease.

She has also developed a curriculum for a Child Abuse Prevention Program for kindergarten through second grade in the school district.

"Creativity is her claim to fame," said Deanna Bowers, spokeswoman for the Southern Section of the California School Nurses Organization, which recently named her School Nurse of the Year in competition with 600 other nurses.

Meals said she "was flabbergasted" by the award, but noted that it allows her to "let people know what we (school nurses) do." While she uses puppets to tell her story on health education--"this is the difference between me and other school nurses"--others use their own methods to educate students on health.

Despite all their efforts to teach students the value of a healthy body, "kids today are getting less and less fit," said Meals, mother of two daughters. "An awful lot of our kids go home and watch television" instead of leading active lives after school, she said.

And while her main concentration is on schoolchildren, Meals also involves herself in community activities to benefit all ages.

Last year she developed an educational program for families of victims of Alzheimer's disease, a program that she presented at the President's Conference on Aging in Washington.

Ted Bandaruk, 39, of Newport Beach figured he had two chances--slim and none--to win the 1986 National College Ski Assn.'s Coach of the Year title for Alpine skiing. Well, the Orange Coast College coach did win it and appropriately answered, "This was completely unexpected."

It must have been the fact that his 30-member team is the only community college ski squad in Southern California and competes so successfully against 14 larger and better-financed university and state college ski teams.

Actually, the Orange Coast team was disbanded in 1978 due to budget cuts and reinstated in 1980. Now, team members pay most of their own costs but get help from team sponsor Newport Ski Co., which provides practice time on a revolving ski slope in one of its Newport Beach facilities.

Bandaruk feels a positive season-long approach is a winner. "Near the end of the year when other teams run out of patience . . . we come on strong."

And what does he feel about his award? "It is a great honor," he said.

It's not so much that men are vain, although many are, but getting a face lift may be a matter of job survival or even getting a job, believes plastic surgeon Dr. Bruce F. Connell of South Laguna.

"Anyone who puts on a suit and tie and gets his hair cut is vain," said Connell, who has had a face lift and an eyebrow lift. "Ten years ago many men wouldn't have considered a face lift, but a new attitude has changed with the times."

The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported 1986 figures showing that 10% of all wrinkle-removing face lifts, 24% of all nose jobs, 24% of all chin reshapes and 14% of eyelid reshapings were performed on men.

"If men have a pull between their eyebrows," said Connell, an associate clinical professor at UC Irvine, "it can produce an angry or sad look, and if a man is in sales and looks tired and bored he may not get a job."

Connell, who said a large number of his patients are other doctors and surgeons, said there is a heavy increase in men "who want the satisfaction of looking better."

Acknowledgments--Fausto M. Mayoral of Fullerton was presented $500 by the Kaiser Permanente Scholarship Program, which aids disabled students seeking health profession careers. Mayoral, blind since age 11 and earning A's in his biological science classes at Cal State Fullerton, is also a Spanish-language interpreter there. A junior, he plans a chiropractic career.

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