UAA nursing students to host community fair, “Swear to Care,” tomorrow

Senior nursing students from UAA’s School of Nursing are culminating a seven-week intensive capstone project this Saturday from noon-6 p.m. at Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage.

Twenty-eight soon-to-be graduates are set to host “Swear to Care,” a community fair aimed to shed light of on four forms of interpersonal violence in the Anchorage community: child abuse, sexual abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence.

One message the seniors hope to get across is the shared responsibility a community has in dealing with these issues, according to Chelsea Burg, who looked into child abuse.

“We’re going to focus on bystander prevention … so that it’s not just on the victims of abuse or the abusers, but what can you do as a citizen in our community to help prevent and spread the awareness of this problem,” Burg said. “People want to stop this, they have the desire, but they just don’t know how to.”

The students set up surveys last month at several locations around town, including the Anchorage Market, and social media, to see if the public understood what roles they can play when they suspect an incident of abuse.

Senior Jessica Buchanan focused her attention on elder abuse and said she found many of the people surveyed about the topic were puzzled on even the most basic kinds of intervention.

“A lot of people didn’t know who to report abuse to — like, some didn’t even list the police. … These are really hard topics to talk about. They are even difficult topics to talk about in our groups, so talking to a total stranger, even doing our surveys can be uncomfortable,” said Buchanan.

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To help ease some of the tension surrounding these topics, the nursing students tapped into their creativity and came up with games and activities that provide a lighter mode of relaying information to the public. Also included will be a child-friendly booth with games, hourly drawings for prizes, and snacks.

Several organizations in the Anchorage community aided the students’ work, including: Standing Together Against Rape, Abused Women’s Aid in Crises, Adult Protective Services, Office of Children’s Services, Alaska Cares, Forensic Nursing Services of Providence, and Anchorage Police Department. Many business groups supported the endeavor by donating gift cards and other prizes that will be given away.

The event is free for all visitors.