PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry High School’s School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) brought back the annual health fair for students on Wednesday.
“We were asked to go beyond the normal realm of a physical education class,” explained SHAC spokesperson Misty Bruner. “I thought this would be a great way to get information to students.” Bruner said East students picked topics of interest for the health fair.
Bruner said a total of 12 booths representing issues including mental health, prescription drugs, nutrition, driving under the influence and mental health.
“I had a vision of what the fair was to be from the beginning,” added Bruner. “I hope students will participate in this because we have designed many of the booths to be interactive.” She said students participating would get cards that would have special stickers placed on them for each area they visited. The cards were then turned in for a drawing for two goody bags.
Surry County Health and Nutrition Center nutritionist Kandis Ingram readied her display of numerous fast food item containers before talking with students about making healthy choices from restaurant menus.
“There are a lot of healthy choices that can be made at a fast food restaurant,” said Ingram. “Selecting items with less fat, sodium and added sugar is a good start.”
Ingram said she has had a year’s experience being a presenter at a variety of health fairs held at elementary and middle schools as well as at Surry Community College.
“The response from all ages at these events has been great,” said Ingram. “The key is to get them involved so they take the information home and apply it. For instance, keeping fast food choices healthier is dependant on the portion size chosen. You are not just locked into eating salads as the only healthy choice.”
Ingram explained students are often surprised to see how many calories their favorite food choices contain.
“If we can get kids to think about what they are eating, to think about the effect of extra cheese or selecting water instead of a sugary soda they can understand that small changes make big changes later on,” said Ingram.
Pilot Mountain Police Department Drug Awareness Officer D.J. Edmonds appeared to enjoy the popularity of stick on badges he was handing out to students. Edmonds’ display used technology, a laptop with a slide show of horrible accidents to demonstrate to young drivers the result of technology distracting them while driving.
Edmonds, a nine-year veteran police officer, has been the First Step Drug Awareness Program officer for five years. He said that in addition to the deadly consequences of texting while driving, technology has made it possible to download videos and watch them on an iphone placed on a dashboard.
“Accidents from this type of deadly distraction have become the second highest killer of teens,” said Edmonds. “Only prescription drugs and alcohol cause more teen deaths.” Edmonds told students that it is against the law in North Carolina for drivers under the age of 18 to use a mobile phone or any technology associated with a mobile telephone while the car is in motion.
Edmonds indicated minors caught using such a device will receive a $25 fine and the law also prohibits minors using other technology including digital cameras, email, music or Internet games.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program, Click It or Ticket materials indicate all drivers are prohibited from texting or reading a text message while a vehicle is in motion. A driver caught texting or reading a text message while driving will face a fine of $100 plus court fees of at least $130.
Kimberly Spencer, behavioral health counselor at Northern Pediatrics, was another vendor on hand for the fair. Areas she discussed with students included dating violence, bullying and even mental health strategies for athletes.
“Athletes can use a variety of mental health resources to improve their performance,” explained Spencer. “There are simply lots of things we can do with a variety of health therapies such as art and play therapy.”
Spencer was also supportive with initiatives in local schools to improve their methodology in programs against bullying.
“Bullying is an issue and it is real,” said Spencer, who is a licensed professional counselor with more than 15 years experience working with individuals and families.
Sponsors for the event included Walmart 1039 in Mount Airy, Dr. Mark Appler and Dr. Randy Keith.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.