As living in the bush also means isolation from medical services, it is critical that basic steps are taken to maintain good health.
Medical support can be offered by village medical centres, staffed by volunteers in smaller villages. Access to doctors usually means a flight out to a local hub 'city', or to a larger city for more serious interventions, provided there are planes flying. Some villages have doctors visiting on rotations.
Sickness can spread quickly within the confines of a school. Care is taken to keep hands washed throughout the day. Many of the students suffer from poor nutrition, and lowered immune systems caused by stress, can be just the invitation needed for illness to spread.
This all means that routine visits to doctors while out of the bush, help manage good health and help avoid medical emergencies.
Dental care is also available with surgeries set up in classrooms or the gymnasium as pictured.
Dental hygiene has become a major concern since the introduction of sugared foods not normally part of the traditional diet. This means that children suffer from dental decay. Many teachers have toothbrushes in the classroom for daily teeth cleaning rituals after meals, and teach about importance of dental hygiene.
For teachers, the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables is often counteracted with vitamin supplements. Being exposed to potential water pollutants, and new bugs, means being conscious of the need to get enough rest and relaxation during the long teaching and often subsequent coaching hours of the school calendar.
Health and Fitness
Most villagers use the school gymnasium for a variety of sports and keeping fit regimes over the long winter months.
Often involved with coaching, teachers sometimes use gym equipment in their apartments for personal fitness,especially when time is limited and venturing outdoors in freezing temperatures is prohibitive.
Native Youth Olympics are now held every spring, began in 1971. They were originally designed for native Alaskans to improve self-esteem and build confidence. The games are a celebration of flexibility, power, balance, concentration, agility, physical strength, and stamina. Events include kneel jump, wrist carry, Eskimo stick pull, toe kick,one hand reach ( as below), two foot high kick, Indian stick pull and seal hop. Read more
Many of the children know the value of fitness and see adults engaging in sports. The native Alaskans are competitive in team sports and highly value the status their village accomplishments may achieve on the sporting calendar.
Some villages have cross country training on the tundra during the summer months.
The tundra is spongy rather like running on sand hills, and can quickly develop strength and durability.