OU medical students host health fair

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published February 8, 2017

 A variety of stations were set up, including yoga classes, hearing and vision tests, and impaired-vision goggles that demonstrate the effects of drugs or alcohol.

A variety of stations were set up, including yoga classes, hearing and vision tests, and impaired-vision goggles that demonstrate the effects of drugs or alcohol.

Photo provided by Brian Bierley

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HARPER WOODS — In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students from the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine spent the day participating in a series of community service projects, including the Health Fair and Taste Fest at Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods.

The Health Fair and Taste Fest transformed the school’s cafeteria into a hub of activity, hosting education stations focused on healthy eating habits, the benefits of exercise and stress management. It was done in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve,” that the students organized this event Jan. 16.

This was the sixth year that the Health Fair and Taste Fest has been offered. It grew over time to encompass healthy eating habits, hence adding the Taste Fest to the fair.

Jeniffer Okungbowa-Ikponwosa, the student co-planner of the program, said their goal was to provide as many health resources for the public as possible while making attending the health fair fun and engaging.

“What we did was set up different testing and display tables, and offered things such as vision tests, interactive games, flu shots and booths that talked about issues like how to eat healthier,” said Okungbowa-Ikponwosa. “I’d say the event was a success because we were able to get a lot of people engaged and allowed them to have fun while we provided a service.”

Medical student Belinda Asare shared her love of dancing by leading a station that encouraged participants to move; Allyson DiMagno showed people how to calculate their weight and body mass index; and Dr. Asha Shajahan, who practices family medicine at Beaumont Hospital, brought two cadaver lungs, one pink and healthy, to show the dangers of smoking.

“We started the health fair program five and a half years ago,” said Dr. Caryn Reed-Hendon, director of diversity and inclusion for the medical school. “We needed a partner we could work with in the community. We chose Chandler Park Academy because they serve kids in grades K-12. In planning a health fair, we knew there was a health care gap in Harper Woods and this could be a big help to alleviate that.”

Oakland University plans to continue hosting health fair events like this in the foreseeable future. There are already plans to return to Harper Woods in 2018. The medical students said they don’t have any particular way they would improve the event, but they do hope they can reach more people.

“The only thing I think we could improve on in the future is getting word out about the event better,” said Okungbowa-Ikponwosa. “We had it at the school, so we had the kids taking part, but I hope next year we can get more parents and other members of the community to join in too. We want to provide these health resources to as many people as possible.”

Reed-Hendon said this event was a collaborative effort by a number of people and organizations. The end goal for all of them is the same: to provide health services to people who may have limited opportunities.

“This event is important because there are always people who can’t get to screenings, which can save their lives, and getting opportunities to have those services come to you can make so much of a difference,” she said. “It also helps build trust with groups like the Wayne County Health Centers, Karmanos Cancer Institute and Beaumont Health, which all helped us with the fair.”

The medical students and doctors who took part in the Health Fair and Taste Fest said that attending events like this one, especially when they are offered for free, is crucial. Sometimes such tests can be life-changing.

“I hope people see the importance of things like screenings and preventative care,” said Okungbowa-Ikponwosa. “One test or screening can potentially save your life.”

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