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March 29, 2012

McLean students get healthy lesson

Health Fair at school organized by Indiana State community nursing class

TERRE HAUTE — McLean High School students learned about the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices — and resources that can assist them when they don’t — during the school’s first ever Health Fair on Wednesday.

McLean students attended sessions on nutrition; alcohol and drugs; depression and stress; bullying and cyberbullying, and sexually-transmitted infections. They also participated in a health assessment where they could receive a vision screening and blood pressure check.

Students in an Indiana State University community health nursing class organized the event.

“We hope they will learn a healthier lifestyle … and that what they do now will affect them later on,” said Destiny McCormick, a nursing student and senior at ISU. She developed a survey to find out areas of interest among McLean students.

Perhaps surprisingly, nutrition ranked number one.

Carol Lucas, VCSC health and nursing services, said some of the McLean students are living on their own. One goal was to make students aware of the resources available if they need help dealing with such issues as depression or stress, or drugs and alcohol. 

The Health Fair also provided them with information on how to access health insurance programs.

During the nutrition session, Terre Haute Regional Hospital dietitian Mandy Chapman talked about a healthy diet. She suggested students limit how much  fast food they eat because it tends to be high in calories, fat and sodium — although there are healthy options as well.

As an example, she pointed out that a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a 16-ounce soda has 1,166 calories and 51 grams of fat; a Happy Meal consisting of a hamburger, small fries and sugar-free soda has 481 calories and 19 grams of fat, she said.

In another session, Dr. Paras Harshawat talked about the warning signs of depression and also provided suggestions on healthy ways to cope with stress, including talking openly with a trusted adult.

In a session on sexually transmitted infections, students learned that one in four sexually active teens has an STI. They also learned that some STIs are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Among the students attending the health fair was Ashley Stadler, a McLean junior. She thought it was a good idea that students were being given information on where to go for help if they needed it.

Sophomore Dorian Hutchinson said that when it comes to STIs, he learned that “diseases get around easily” and that abstaining is the safest option for younger people.

Several community and health organizations participated in the Health Fair.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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