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Professor’s toilet humour all for the sake of Aussie kids

Published:25 September 2019

Professor Kerry Reid-Searl and the Poop It Kit cartoon characters

Professor Kerry Reid-Searl wants to help wipe away many of the bowel issues, such as constipation, plaguing up to 30 per cent of children.

If adults can receive a bowel-testing kit, why can’t Aussie kids have a junior version which can help to address bowel issues by showing what a ‘perfect sausage poo’ looks like.

Of course, the ‘Poop-it Kit’ would have poo-related stories, wall posters, poo-shaped cartoon characters, a Monopoly-style game, a colouring-in book, a whoopee cushion and an apron with a map of the digestive system.

One of Australia’s most unconventional health researchers wants to help wipe away many of the bowel issues, such as constipation, plaguing up to 30 per cent of children.

“Some individuals may want to pooh-pooh the idea but I love being involved in research projects where the outcomes have real-world benefits,” says Professor Kerry Reid-Searl, of CQUniversity Australia, who is working with co-researchers Kate Crowley, Nicole Blunt, Carmen Barnard and Rachelle Cole (from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences).

“The key is getting kids to aspire to healthy foods, plenty of water and exercise to promote healthy bowel functioning.

“Children love to talk about bums and poos and farts, so this kit is just as much about getting adults comfortable talking to them about bowel health.

“Our ‘Poop it Kit’  Family cartoon characters will range from rabbit droppings to gravy types, with the hero as a perfect sausage shape. These have been adapted from the Bristol Stool chart.

“The kit will include a poster for the back of the toilet door and a stars-based reward system for avoiding problem poos.

“Our core message is to ‘eat your veggies and fruit as well, water to drink cause your poos can tell’.”

Professor Reid-Searl has already taken her health simulation masks and body parts and her hospital ward puppets across the globe through the Mask-Ed™ and Pup-Ed™  simulation programs.

Now she has a small grant to develop pilot versions of the 'Poop-it Kit'. Undergraduate nursing students will help introduce them to children, drawing on help from Pup-Ed characters.

Larger production runs of the kits could one day reach children through hospitals, health clinics, schools and parents.

Professor Reid-Searl says that, in her previous role as a paediatric nurse, she encountered many children with constipation and other bowel problems and parents have reported that the related psychosocial issues can be significant.