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January 27, 2013

Minority Health Coalition health fair helps with winter ‘De-Stress!’

TERRE HAUTE — A coalition of health advocates offered assistance in beating the winter blues Saturday.

Nearly 20 agencies joined inside the gym of the Booker T. Washington Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of the Minority Health Coalition of Vigo County, Inc.’s “De-Stress!” health fair. Activities spanned Zumba to cholesterol screenings, all around a theme addressing the health concerns of stress, organizers said.

Executive director Dinah Farrington said January is a particularly stressful month given the cold weather, long periods of darkness and bills left over from holidays. This month typically posts high levels of domestic abuse, as well as drug and alcohol usage, she said.

“The whole focus on this was stress relief,” she said inside the gym, where tables contained not only literature, but professionals offering solutions. In addition to her own agency, participating groups included the Vigo County Health Department, the WILL Center, Hamilton Center, CODA, Vet 2 Vet Indiana, The Lions Club, CHANCES for Indiana Youth, AA, Alanon, Celebrate Recovery, Terre Haute Regional Hospital and Walgreens.

The Minority Health Coalition of Vigo County, Inc. last hosted a general health fair in November, with more than 200 participants, she said.

Pastor Donell Marzett worked a table on behalf of Vet 2 Vet Indiana, a support group designed to help link veterans with services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A veteran of the U.S. Army himself, he said the program not only offers contact information about benefits, but personal counseling. Having dealt with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder himself, he said the group supports veterans even to the point of advocating on their behalf in court when faced with legal problems stemming from mental health issues.

“Most counties have developed a ‘veterans court’ but not Vigo County,” he said, explaining a program which identifies veterans in the midst of criminal proceedings. Information about the program is maintained online at www.vet2vetindiana.org.

Beth Neeley offered a different kind of therapy on mats nearby, as the analytical chemist invited participants to try out yoga.

“It’s my passion,” she said, explaining she instructs yoga at Indiana State University when not working as a chemist in Midwest Compliance Laboratories.

A former sprinter, Neeley began practicing yoga as a way to help sore joints. But the psychological value of the ancient practice quickly became evident and she was soon hooked.

“It helps them calm down and let go of things that bother them,” she said of practitioners.

Yoga teaches people to love themselves while providing challenging physical exercise, she said, adding virtually no equipment is required.

“And I think that’s my favorite thing about yoga. You can practice it every day no matter where you are,” she said. “And you can take it as far as you want, and get into some really advanced poses.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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