Fair informs attendees on prevalent wellness issues

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By Jen Harvey

Over 3,000 members of the public attended Tuesday’s Special Populations health fair, “Mardi Gras – Jazz up Your Health.”

The event ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Illini Union and offered 71 booths on a variety of health-related issues. Attendees could get informed, tested and even pampered for free.

Special Populations is a registered student organization that seeks to address the specific health concerns of minority groups. It is part of McKinley Health Center’s Student Health Concerns Committee.

Beth Elliott, junior in Engineering, decided to donate 10 inches of her hair to a Locks of Love booth run by Custom Cuts in Champaign. She donated along with two other members of her sorority.

“Since my hair was so long, I’ve been thinking about donating it,” Elliott said. “I got the e-mail from our philanthropy chair advertising the opportunity and decided to do it with a few of my friends.”

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District collaborated with the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Nursing to offer free cholesterol testing. Special Populations estimates the average cost for a cholesterol screening to be around $200.

Three hundred people had their cholesterol levels tested at the fair. Krista Jones, a UIC Nursing instructor, believes the test is an important measure of health.

“Cholesterol screening is important because individuals in our community need to be aware of their levels,” Jones said. “High cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease, and this can be corrected through proper dietary measures.”

The College of Nursing presented information about healthier choices at local campus eateries and even offered free food samples.

Renee Landa, senior in Nursing at UIC, said the information took over a month to compile.

“The prevalence of obesity is amazing,” Landa said. “If we don’t do anything as students and nurses, it’s not going to get any better.”

The Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network also presented information on organ donation. Fair attendees were able to sign up to become donors at the booth.

“There are 100,000 people on the organ donor waiting list,” said Shawn Hampton, a presenter for Gift of Hope. “We want people to be informed on the actual facts. We’re really here to present that information.”

Other fair attendees had their nails painted through the Concept College of Cosmetology or received massages from one of the four massage therapy vendors.