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Clinic Provides a Slice of Home for Sick Children

Nahida Barbari is popular at Hybla Valley Elementary.

Students at Hybla Valley Elementary School don't mind going to the clinic. Even though they don't feel well, they know that they'll get extra special attention from Clinic Room Aide Nahida Barbari. An aide who does more than go the extra mile, she's there to greet them with welcome arms, provide comfort while they wait for parents and read to them if they want.

Just walking into the clinic makes the children feel at ease. The clinic doesn't have the typical antiseptic look. Instead, it is adorned with Barbari's collection of teddy bears, knick-knacks, and this time of year, holiday decorations. Barbari said that she started bringing in teddy bears because she wanted to brighten up the clinic which was originally in a small, windowless room.

"I wanted to make the clinic welcoming for kids, so I started to put out teddy bears. Then parents and students started bringing me things," said Barbari.

And so the collections started to grow. In addition to decorating for the Christmas season, Barbari said that she also has an ample supply of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter items.

Students can't wait for her to put up the displays, and will stop by to ask, 'When are you going to put up the holiday decorations?'

"If I forget to put the lights on, they let me know," said Barbari, referring to the lighted display in the clinic window.

THE ROOM THAT she has resided in the past few years is a far cry from the small windowless room she started in. When Hybla Valley was remodeled a few years ago, they moved the clinic to a large space across from the office with full-view windows. It is such a bright, cherry place, made even brighter because of Barbari's touches.

Her personality shines as well. Full-time substitute teacher Danielle Mercadal said, "She's created a nice atmosphere for the children. Her services even extend to the staff. We always go to her when we aren't feeling well, and receive the same amount of care and advice that she gives to the children, that's nice of her to take the time to do that."

Barbari's supervisor, Public Health Nurse Elaine Ward, said, "The kids like to read when they come here; a lot of kids don't have a lot."

IN A SCHOOL where there are a lot of needs, they make sure that students who need glasses and hearing aids get them.

"The kids are really grateful [for what we do]," said Barbari

Barbari doesn't take all the credit for her success. She attributes a lot of it to the great staff in the school, some of whom cover for her if she's absent. Barbari also credits Principal James Dallas, who she said is a "good supporter of the clinic. He works hard to make sure that the kids are taken care of."