Reaching a New Audience at a Public Health Fair

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Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Kelly Over in Places/Events

Our guest blogger this week is Kelly Over, our Education Program Assistant. Kelly helps coordinate our outreach educational programming.

National Public Health Week

On Wednesday, April 4th, the Penn State Pesticide Education Program enthusiastically participated in The Pennsylvania State University’s 6th Annual Public Health Fair located at the Hetzel Union Building on the University Park campus. The Public Health Fair was held as part of National Public Health Week, which was April 2nd-8th. Organized by the American Public Health Association, National Public Health Week is “a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving the public’s health.”1

Learning about Signal Words by playing mini-golf at the Public Health Fair.

Poster on skin absorption rates.

Public Health Fair on Campus

Staff members eagerly engaged visitors with our look-alike display, signal word demonstration, and mini golf hole. Students were especially interested in the skin absorption rate of chemicals poster, and, of course, Mr. Yuk! Ironically, when asked about whether they had heard of Mr. Yuk before, only about half the students responded with a “yes.” The other half of the students were interested to hear Mr. Yuk’s purpose and were impressed with the Poison Control Center’s assistance with household poisonings.

Since the event was sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Delta, the National Health Preprofessional Honor Society at Penn State, the student contacts were especially valuable since many had aspirations to be future physicians or to work in healthcare. Many of the organization’s members who were working the event remarked on how much they appreciated learning about resources for Mr. Yuk and Poison Control. As one bio-behavioral health student left our exhibit, I overheard her comment to her friend “Wow, neat information. I wonder why they don’t mention this in any of our classes?” (Maybe something for Pesticide Education to consider in the future?)

Kathy explaining our look-alike display to interested participants.

Join the Movement Towards Better Health!

During a shift break, I visited some of the fellow vendors. I wondered up to a nutrition group, who had a spinning wheel and the opportunity to win a recipe book. I was immediately enticed! After spinning the wheel and answering a question about whether all dark bread is whole wheat, I received my prize with a jolly response from the staffer of “Always remember to read the label!”

EPA's Read the Label First logo.

Where had I heard that phrase before? Yes, she obviously meant nutrition labels on food products, but it was the realization that many of the health fair vendors in the room basically had the same key messages: read the label, monitor the situation, wear protective equipment, and, overall, be safe and make smart choices. We all wanted share resources with the public to help each individual live a healthy and happy life.  As this year’s National Public Health Week theme was “A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement,” our Pesticide Education Program encourages you to “join the movement” towards improved health and enhanced well-being in your life, workplace, and community. For home safety, consider contacting our office for Mr. Yuk stickers or even checking your household chemical and pesticide storage locations. Simple steps count every day!

National Public Health Week was the perfect opportunity to reevaluate our health and safety habits and for our program to further spread our pesticide safety messages. We look forward to being asked back next year!

Until Next Time,
Be Safe!

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1 National Public Health Week, “A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement.” http://www.nphw.org/about.