Fair gives measure of health

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 10, 2005

WESSON – Pilates, line dance classes and walking several milestwo or three times a week are paying off for Sharon Alexander.

That was verified Wednesday when Alexander learned her body massindex, a “fatness” measure that takes into account a person’sheight in relation to their weight, was 20. Doctors advise thenumber should be 25 or less.

“He said whatever I was doing to keep it up,” Alexander saidafter stopping at the BMI station during the first Take Charge ofYour Health community health fair at Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege.

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While her BMI number was good, the director of the school’sInstitute for Learning in Retirement said she was told she neededto work on her blood pressure.

“This is a really good day for people who need to be made awareof their health,” Alexander said as she visited other stations inMullen Gymnasium.

Alexander was one of nearly 200 people who attended the fair,which was sponsored by the Mississippi State Department of Healthand the Mississippi Rural Health Corps. Participants had theopportunity to gain valuable knowledge about a wide variety ofhealth topics, from children’s health and car-seat safety to oralhealth and healthy eating habits.

“This is really giving them some tools and information that isuseful,” said Victor Sutton, director of preventive health for thestate health department.

Wednesday’s fair at Co-Lin was the first of 16 such eventsplanned for community college districts around the state. The fairsare a chance to reach out to college campuses and their surroundingcommunities, said Mary Ann Sones, a consultant with the ruralhealth corps.

“We have three target areas: students, faculty and thecommunity,” Sones said.

Mentioning a sign-in sheet for their areas, Co-Lin Director ofNursing Mary Ann Canterbury said there had been a steady flow ofpeople.

“We’ve had a good response from the community, employees andstudents,” Canterbury said.

Co-Lin’s associate degree nursing students conducted bloodpressure and vision checks. The school’s medical lab technicianstudents assisted with glucose screenings.

“We always have high attendance at those,” Canterbury said.

Sutton said all health stations had been utilized. Sones addedone of the more popular stops was the “Ask the Doctor” station.

Dr. Rebecca James, of Jackson, said she covered a variety oftopics with those who came by Wednesday afternoon.

Discussions included more information about what visitorslearned at other stations, James said. However, one person also hada twisted ankle examined and one student voiced interest in acareer in the medical profession.

“It’s been real interesting,” James said.

Katie Little, a Co-Lin sophomore from Terry, said herself-evaluation was confirmed during the screenings.

“I consider myself a physically fit person,” Little said as sheventured from station to station. “I was just coming to see whatthey had to say.”

Sones said sponsors hope to make the fair an annual event. Shesaid the purpose of the fair is to not only let participants knowwhat their health statistics are but also to give them informationon what the numbers mean and how to improve them.

“There’s lot of opportunities for them to learn how to takecharge of their health,” Sones said.