Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – Health care reform has highlighted the importance of comprehensive, culturally appropriate interventions at the community level to prevent disease and encourage healthy behaviors. Providing young people with the knowledge and skills to make healthy lifestyle choices is the best way to reduce the risk chronic disease in later life. Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing faculty and students have stepped up to the challenge of promoting health in a fun and engaging way for a diverse student population in a high school setting.
Loyola’s School-based Health Center at Proviso East High School held a health fair on Wednesday, March 20 and Thursday, March 21, at the school. The theme for this year’s health fair is “Peace, Love, Health.”
Nearly 1,900 Proviso students visited the fair during their gym class. They had access to 30 interactive health promotion booths staffed by nursing, dietetic, medical, social work and public health students and Maywood community groups. The booths highlighted various health topics, including healthy nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, avoidance of drugs, tobacco and alcohol, disease prevention and safety.
“Our annual health fair provided the School-based Health Center with a way to reach students with health information outside of the classroom,” said Diana Hackbarth, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and SBHC project director, Loyola’s Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. “Our goal was to discourage poor diet and risky lifestyle behaviors and to have a lasting positive impact on the health of students and their families.”
The School-based Health Center was established by Loyola University Chicago nursing faculty more than a decade ago to give teens in this underserved area access to health care. Since its inception, thousands of students have received primary health care, school physicals, immunizations and social work, mental health, nutrition and laboratory services at the center.
“The school-based health center provides easy access to health care and education for students who might not otherwise receive treatment and preventive services,” Dr. Hackbarth said. “These resources have helped students thrive both inside and outside of the classroom.”