Woodstock Academy holds annual health fair

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Tue., Mar. 22, 2011
Ralph Campagna tests the volume on Elaina Besece's iPod. Photos by D. Coffey.
Ralph Campagna tests the volume on Elaina Besece's iPod. Photos by D. Coffey.

Woodstock Academy’s Athletic Council held its eight annual Wellness Fair on Friday, March 18, at the Hyde Building. The fair was one of four activities scheduled for Wellness Week. Speakers from the Northeast District Department of Health, the University of Connecticut and the UConn Medical Center were also scheduled to speak to students.

Wellness Week is part of an annual attempt by the Athletic Council to help students make healthy lifestyle choices. A Reiki practitioner, a chiropractor, and a masseuse had tables at the fair. Representatives from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Day Kimball Hospital and the American Red Cross were available to answer student questions. Amplisound hearing products and services had a booth, as did the Northeast District Department of Health.

Chiropractor Dr. Debra Burns said she was at the fair because it was crucial to reach people when they are young.

“Chiropractice is like dental floss for the spine,” she said. “The spine stops growing when a person reaches 21 years of age.” Because the central nervous system is housed in the spinal column, it’s important to make sure the vertebrae of the spine are in alignment, she said.

Students were drawn to the model of the spinal column on her booth. She used a neuropatholator, a diagram of a cross-section of a spine with the organs associated with each vertebra. Students could press a button for each of the cranial, thoracic and lumbar spines and see how spinal misalignment could affect organs such as the liver, heart, and kidneys.  

Burns talks to a lot of women in her practice. “They make most of the health care decisions for families,” she said. And kids can have problems, she said. She sees young runners come in with stress-related problems in their backs. Mainly she is concerned with reaching young people to share her maintenance-based ideology with them, she said.

Ralph Campagna from Amplisound Systems was able to test the decibel levels of the iPods they carried. By putting a microphone probe in their ears while they listened to their songs, he was able to show them the noise levels they were subjecting their ears to. The microphone probe was connected to a computer which showed the sound pressure amplitude levels in their ear canals.

Dave Glenn Jr. said he was drawn to the table because he plays a lot of techno music. “My hearing is above average,” he said. He wasn’t worried about hearing loss. His friend Jake McGovern wasn’t concerned either. He plays acoustic guitar, which is soft music, he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

But there were students whose levels were recorded at sound pressures over 100 decibels. Campagna said he had attended the fair for two years, but has been in the business for 30 years. His warning to students was to take precautions now so that they wouldn’t have hearing problems in their 40s and 50s.

When Elaina Besece’s sound test showed she was listening at a high decibel level, Campagna urged her to turn it down just three-quarters of the volume. His warning might have fallen on ‘deaf’ ears.

“It’s the generation,” he said.

Most of the vendors were well aware of this dilemma. Young kids are generally healthy. They don’t realize how the cumulative effects of their behaviors might impact them in later years.  

In order to stress just how real the dangers of cigarette smoking were, there was a jar of tar on the American Red Cross table.

Hayly Marshall vowed she wouldn’t start smoking. “My whole family smokes. They’ve smoked for years,” she said. “When my older sister borrows my clothes, they smell terrible when I get them back.”

The booth also featured a skin analyzer that showed skin damage from the sun. Most of the high school students had healthy skin, and they weren’t frightened by what they saw.

NDDH’s director of health education Linda Colangelo was able to grab the attention of students entering the exhibit by a variety of posters and display information. When they wandered over to the display of long grasses where deer ticks might live, she was able to launch into her message: what you now do matters.

“Always wash your hands,” she said. “Eat fruits and vegetables. Your mind will always be 18, but your body will not be,” she said. A group of students studied a display comparing different drinks popular with young adults. Juice, skim milk and water were paired up against energy drinks and soda. The calorie differentials were substantial. Eight ounces of a sportsade drink measured 50 calories against the 110 calories of a comparable amount of energy drink.

The message was these little things add up if you do them consistently for years.

Perhaps the favorite booth was the Central School of Massage, where Stephanie Morin gave short free massages. Judith Hansen from Day Kimball Hospital had a table covered with literature that covered a broad range of topics of interest to adolescents. Few students had their blood pressure taken, but she offered the service. You want to get them before they begin toxic behaviors, she said.   

Students in the Athletic Council took turns at the table they set up in the gymnasium. Apples, bananas and bottles of water were available to students as they came in and left the fair. Senior and secretary of the council Jeremy Wildgoose was hopeful the fair would leave a lasting impression on the students.


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