With food, music, a bouncy house and games, the Region IX Health Fair had a lively atmosphere that brought over 150 people into Old Union Hall in the Old University Union Saturday afternoon.
The fair, hosted by the Charles Drew Minority Pre-Health Society, featured tabling from campus organizations like Autism Speaks U, African Student Organization and the Hula Hoop Club as well as community organizations like the Family Planning of South Central New York and the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier.
Students collected information on a range of health topics, from vaccinations and sexually transmitted diseases and infections to mental health and physical fitness.
This was the first time Binghamton University hosted the event, which has been ongoing for six years. Region IX, which is designated by parent organization Student National Medical Association, encompasses New York and New Jersey and in past years was hosted by medical schools in the area.
Members of Charles Drew, the first undergraduate chapter to host the regional fair, wanted to highlight health issues, like mental illnesses, that students did not know a lot about, said Fanta Magassouba, the president of the club and a senior majoring in psychology.
“A lot of students walk around campus and feel like a lot of stuff can’t happen to them,” Magassouba said. “They don’t realize that health issues start at a young age and they need to be educated about those issues.”
Organizations such as Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (PULSE) gave out lollipops with facts about heart health attached, since February is American Heart Month. Brianna Infante, the publications coordinator of PULSE and a sophomore majoring in psychology, said that heart disease is an issue of which college students should be aware.
“We’re hoping that women maintain their health and … they make it a habit of getting themselves checked out,” Infante said.
Other club tables incorporated games and activities to engage and inform students. Susan Blythe, a registered nurse for the Broome County Health Department, hosted trivia to test students’ knowledge on vaccines. The questions quizzed students on many topics, such as meningitis and whooping cough, but one point that Blythe stressed was that students should consider receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, saying that it could prevent both cervical and penile cancer.
Real Education About College Health (REACH) challenged students to properly apply a condom to a wooden model while blindfolded. Tiara Hills, a REACH intern and a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, said that she hoped the game would help students feel more comfortable talking about sexual health topics.
“Instead of it being a taboo subject to discuss, it’s something we can have an open forum about,” she said. “So people feel comfortable discussing and know that there are people willing to help.”