By Katelyn Newman
While Maryland Day offers students, families, and visitors the chance to learn more about the university and win free prizes, the School of Public Health and the Health Center paired up for the first time ever to offer fun health lessons for guests.
“It’s a really good way of giving back to the community and providing information as well as services about current health topics, and also to allow families to have fun with their kids,” said Dr. Brit Saksvig, research assistant professor for the School of Public Health and its Maryland Day coordinator.
“I think that the School of Public Health is [focused on] health promotions [and] health prevention, and it’s a good tie-in with the Health Center, especially with some of the activities that some of our vendors and some of our students did,” said Saksvig.
Set up outside the Health Center and St. Mary’s Hall, the School of Public Health and the Health Center organized a student-run health fair, a scavenger hunt for kids encouraging them to count their steps for the chance to win prizes, and a healthy lifestyles table sharing the latest information on how to optimize one’s health.
A mini-health fair took place inside the Health Center, where vendors including the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and the Psychiatric Research Center provided oral cancer screenings, HIV testing, body mass index (BMI) readings, lung capacity and blood pressure testing opportunities.
People that do not have access to regular health care were able to take advantage of free testings, said Julia Matute, the Health Center’s marketing coordinator.
It was a very different model partnering with the School of Public Health, and any time student affairs can work with academic affairs, it turns out awesome, Matute said.
Saksvig said that they had about 400 volunteers scheduled for all of the programs the School of Public Health is offering for Maryland Day. The Kinesiology Department, Global Health Scholars program, and Gymkana also helped promote healthy lifestyles through their proper hand washing and fitness activities.
While the peer educators were not involved directly in the events this year, the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) was, said senior Brittany Brown.
“We’re the voice of the students in the Health Center,” said the senior kinesiology major. Brown said all 15 SHAC members acted as the welcoming committee for the Health Center throughout the day by greeting people at the Health Center’s door, showing them around the center, and providing snacks.
Saksvig said that the School of Public Health and the Health Center promoted the events through fliers detailing the Maryland Day map, Twitter posts, the Maryland Day website, and the Channel 7 News program.
Other programs during Maryland Day that promoted healthier lifestyles included the Hearing and Speech Science’s Hearing Awareness all-day event, said the university’s audio clinic director Dr. Margaret McCabe.
“What we have done for a couple years running is that we have a mannequin that is set up and wired with a sound meter” that tells if someone is listening to music too loudly on their iPods or iPhones and thus damaging their ears, said McCabe.
McCabe said that the Hearing and Speech Sciences Department has had a tent on McKeldin Mall for Maryland Day every year since it began.
Maryland Day provides a nice push for the department into the Better Hearing and Speech Month during May. During this month, McCabe said that the department offers free hearing screenings in their LeFrak Hall clinic, open for anyone in the hopes of educating the community about hearing and speech health.