The Physical Education Department at Fort Lee High School recently received a grant from the Fort Lee Education Foundation enabling them to acquire two additional RealCare Babies for seniors in Family Life classes to take home and experience for 24 hours what it is like to care for a real crying baby.
Physical Education and Family Life teacher Diego Lombardo said the simulated babies, of which the department now has about 15 thanks to the foundation, are “very close to” the real thing.
In a letter to the Fort Lee Education Foundation thanking them for the grant, Lombardo, Alysia “A.J.” Ott, with whom Lombardo co-teaches Family Life, and Kelly Horton, who is now at Lewis F. Cole Middle School but whom Lombardo credited with having applied for the initial grants when she was at the high school that resulted in the first 10 babies, the educators said they “have seen the very important aspect that the Real Care Baby program adds to a high school, and it is vital in the decision-making process for these students.”
“Anything that can help our students make a better decision in their life is most welcome,” the letter also says.
Lombardo told Patch the RealCare Baby program is a great addition to the curriculum, which requires all students to take Family Life and therefore participate in the program during their senior year.
“[The students] only have it for 24 hours,” he said. “They love it, but when they give it back, they’re more than happy to give it back.”
The way the program works, according to Lombardo, is that students take a RealCare Baby home, and when it cries, they have to try and stop it from crying by changing diapers, burping, bottle feeding or rocking the baby.
“Whichever one works, it will stop the baby from crying,” Lombardo explained.
According to Realityworks.com, a RealCare Baby may cry for care at any time, day or night. The “caregiver” wears a wireless ID, and a computer built into the baby tracks care and handling. Data can then be downloaded that shows things like missed care and incidents of mishandling.
Aside from the basics of how to take care for a baby, Lombardo said the students learn leadership skills and responsibility, calling the program “good practice for them.”
“[The Fort Lee Education Foundation] does a great job,” said Lombardo, who also teaches Driver’s Education and coaches baseball. “And for the last three or four years they’ve really come up big for us.”