Students hovered excitedly around the lobby of Commons on Tuesday and Wednesday, picking up valuable healthcare information from the first health fair co-sponsored by the Isham Health Center and UMass-Lowell. In past years, Isham has organized fairs to educate students about topics such as hypothermia, frostbite, and sun exposure, but this was the first collaboration with UMass-Lowell. Though Isham has hosted UMass nursing students as interns in the fall for the past five years, Director of Nursing Lois Kelly and UMassa Health Education Director Nicole Champagne looked to extend the partnership by jointly organizing the fair. Three seniors, two juniors, and one sophomore from UMass ran the program as a required project in a course about the real-life applications of different health education fields. The college students presented Andover students with information they had researched on nutritional supplements, skin care, and tobacco. Ms. Kelly chose the topics based on the most common questions posed to Isham staff. “A lot of students, especially athletes, come in with questions not only about Boost, but about other commonly sold supplements, and the historical aspect of tobacco, how companies have progressively changed the ingredients to enhance its addiction power, is often overlooked during FCD week,” she said. The UMass students spent over a month researching the various topics over the internet and in books, and contacting clinics and associations in order to supply the PA community with accurate information. By stationing the information booth in Commons during lunch hours, Ms. Kelly hoped to attract a greater number of students, as well as faculty and staff members, to the fair by avoiding conflicts with sports and other evening commitments. She also wanted to offer pamphlets to students rushing to class. UMass Students working at the booth were delighted with the response from Andover students, and reported that many curious passers-by came up to ask questions. Vanessa Parkinson de Castro ’05, who stopped by the booth, said, “It’s great that they set up the table in Commons, because it definitely made it easier for me to stop by than Isham.” She continued, “I especially appreciate that they are handing out information on tobacco: lots of teenagers are grappling with whether to smoke or not right now, so it’s great that they can access the facts that will lead them to a responsible decision.” Both Ms. Kelly and Ms. Champagne hope to make this health fair an annual program at the university to bring public health information to Andover students. “It’s great for the college students, who gain a lot of experience, and we really value the student-to-student aspect of the fair: that’s the best way to do it,” Ms. Kelly said.
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