Sunday, October 26, 2008

What do body piercers, alligators and chocolate have in common?

It’s hard to know where to begin when talking about the Public Health Expo, where exhibitors are handing out everything from free pens to chocolate to first aid kits. You can win free T-shirts and pins after taking the Susan G. Komen booth’s wheel of fortune for a spin (and answering a breast health question), pick up a yellow LIVESTRONG wristband from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, play with plastic fruits and vegetables at the Coordinated Approach to Child Health display and satisfy your sweet tooth at any number of booths offering baskets of candy. Thank you to the University of California/Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health for the packet of delicious California raisins.

I doubt there will ever be a lull at booth # 1140, where members of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork are offering free, five-minute massages. Hello, stress relief.

It’s the eighth Annual Meeting for the Association of Professional Piercers, whose members carry a strong health and safety message for the increasingly popular art of body piercing. Vice President Didier Suarez has huge chunks of fossilized walrus bone in his earlobes, a round black stone in his lower lip and an important message about infection control and safety standards. He’d be happy to talk to you about that.

One of my favorite sections: schools of public health along aisle 200. You’ll find some of the most enthusiastic public health students and faculty in the country offering information on degree programs and outreach efforts. I picked up a squeezable little alligator from a couple of students with the University of Florida College of Health Professions (go Gators!). And you won’t find a more enthusiastic bunch of future public health professionals than with the Consortium of African American Public Health Programs. Five historically black colleges and universities have joined to provide leadership in eliminating health disparities and promoting social justice.

“It’s about empowerment,” said Corliss Allen, an MPH student at Florida A&M University (go Rattlers!) and president of the school’s Future Public Health Professionals. “It’s about giving our communities the skills they need to take control of their lives and take control of their health.”

Hear, hear, Corliss.

I was a little disappointed that the gigantic mobile vision clinic isn’t offering free vision exams, but in its non-expo life, the 40-foot RV sponsored by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors’ Vision and Eye Health Work Group and its partners brings comprehensive vision services to disaster victims, the homeless and under-served communities. Check out the interior, which features state-of-the art exam equipment and nicer cabinets and countertops than my home kitchen.

— D.C.

No comments: