Where can someone go to find out information about local health care companies, on campus health organizations, a condom lubricant demonstration, and a dance performance all at one event? Every year the Aebersold Recreation Center (ARC) holds the annual HealthFest that encourages students to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Students take for granted their health until someone they love or themselves encounter a health problem,” Brian Mortimer, the Coordinator of Wellness and Russell Wright Fitness Center, said. “HealthFest is about being an informed individual.”
According to Mortimer, the booths provided fantastic information about the consequences of bad choices. Also this event showed where students could get help for health related situations, explained Mortimer.
“A lot of the exhibitors do a fantastic job of making the booths interactive,” Mortimer said.
This resulted in a higher participation rate and making the students more involved in the event, Mortimer said. The booths included demonstrations, quizzes, handouts, free merchandise, and a way to learn with fun, according to Mortimer.
Some of the booths and organizations on campus included the American Heart Association, the Fit Club, the Student Counseling Center, Brandon’s Dad booth and the HOPE Peer Educators.
Samantha Parks, 21, senior Secondary Education English major, is a HOPE Peer Educator whose booth focused on lubricants and the difference between oil and water based lubes on a condom.
“After the first few weeks of FYRST seminar programs and Residence Hall booths, we noticed an increase in incorrect answers when we asked about lubricants and latex condom,” Parks explained. “A lot of students were saying that Vaseline and other oil-base lubricants were okay to use with their latex condoms”
According to Parks, instead of just explaining the difference between oil and water based condoms, the students got a chance to see the affects during Health Fest.
“Students had to choose between a water based lubricant, oil based lubricant and Vaseline, which is also an oil-based lubricant,” Parks said. “After they chose their lubricant they rubbed it onto a blown up condom to watch the effects. Students’ who chose the oil based lubricants saw their condom explode after a short amount of time because oil-based lubricants break down latex condoms.”
Along with the interactive experience, the HOPE Peer Educators also handed out free lube and condoms along with candy and pamphlets, explained Parks.
The HOPE Peer Educators are an organization on campus that focuses on informing students topics on safer sex, drugs, alcohol, the importance of sleep, and even interactive games such as the Safer Sex Olympics, explained Parks.
According to Mortimer some organizations like the Slippery Rock University Student Center was giving out free flu shots to inform students as well as provide a service right in the ARC.
Something new this year was the introduction of presentations and performances throughout HealthFest, explained Mortimer.
“Health can be affected by dance and music, by giving students a way to have fun with activity,” Mortimer said.
One performer was the Rock Dance Company, performing two dance pieces.
“Dance contains a lot of cardio movement. It is also a great way to improve flexibility, balance, and coordination,” Michelle Russ, 19, a sophomore Dance major and member of Rock Dance Company, explained.
To prepare for a performance the dancers rehearse every Wednesday night and have a weekly discussion about the health benefits of dancing, according to Russ.
The dancers care about health and want to pass on the health information, Russ explained.
“I feel that by Rock Dance performing, we were able to show that staying active can be fun,” Russ said.
HealthFest has been part of the Slippery Rock community for 28 years and the goal is continue to make the event grow, explained Mortimer.
“We want to make a large event for a variety of ages in the university community and the tri-county community,” Mortimer said.
While the event does continue to grow with this year having about 50 organizations and booths participate, according to Mortimer, the goal is to get more active participants and students.
“Our goal for next year is to increase marketing efforts, and get a higher student and faculty participation,” Mortimer said.