Healthy U Fair demonstrates lifestyle, wellness options

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Free condoms, food and puppy cuddles could all be found at Wednesday morning’s Healthy U fair.

Representatives from more than 15 health-conscious organizations, including Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, were stationed on the William Pitt Union lawn for the fair, which took place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and was hosted by the Office of Student Affairs.

Healthy U is a campaign to encourage college students at Pitt to integrate healthy practices into their lives, and it encompasses many different groups both on and off campus.

“There’s so much medical research that really confirms the link between being healthy and well and having a successful academic and college experience,” Healthy U Director Marian Vanek said.

Representatives from Pitt Student Health Services offered free flu shots to healthy students at the fair. Tracy Miljus, clinic manager of Student Health Services, said her goal was “to get as many people vaccinated with the flu injection as [she] possibly [could].”

Last year, Vanek said that about 400 flu shots were administered, a goal Student Health hoped to match this year. Vanek said that about 2,000 students attended the event throughout the day.  

“In order to keep our students healthy, they need to start there first,” Miljus said.

Tables for LA Fitness, Walk Pittsburgh and Pitt Physical Therapy sought to teach students about the importance of exercise and physical activity in their lives. Healthy U offered sign-ups for “ZooZilla,” a 5K race at the Pittsburgh Zoo on Nov. 2.

Healthy U volunteers and students agreed that other issues, such as excessive drinking, also need to be addressed. Sophomore Jessica Graham said that health issues are important to her because she is a nursing student.

“Because we’re all college kids, there are a lot of health issues,” Graham said. “Like drinking.”

“We’ve had students come up and ask us underage drinking questions,” McDaniel said. “This alcohol chart has been a big hit.”

Pitt’s “Red Solo Cup” student organization, which is dedicated to alcohol awareness, distributed information regarding underage drinking concerns on campus. The group educates students of the consequences of breaking drug and alcohol laws.

Near the alcohol-awareness tables, representatives from Pitt’s Sexual Assault Services offered “The Dating Game,” which prompted students to answer true-or-false questions about dating violence and sexual assault. Sexual Assault Services offers mental health and legal counseling to students and will be promoting domestic violence education during Dating Violence Awareness Week later this month.

Some groups hoped to help students with stress relief, including the Resolve Crisis Network in Point Breeze; Talk About It, which offers depression counseling services to students, and the Humane Society, which offers “puppy cuddles and laughs” every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room through its therapy dogs program. .

“I go home some weekends just to see my animals,” Graham said. “Sometimes you just need them.”

The fair included raffles for a Kindle Fire, a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball bat and other prizes.

Vanek and Miljus agreed that the main cause of students’ aversion to healthy lifestyles is the stress from trying to balance school with other obligations and a social life.

“They’ve got a lot on their plates with school and activities,” Miljus said. “I would say take time for yourself to decrease your stress, and stay in a stress-free zone.”