Sunday, October 30, 2011

Treats, not tricks

Six staff members of the American Legacy Foundation spent an hour a day for six days gathering cigarette butts within a block radius of their D.C. office. Correctly guess how many cigarette butts are in the giant glass jar at their booth in the Public Health Expo and you’ll win a Kindle. Pretty cool, huh?

Legacy staff member Tina Morgan said she counted the butts herself (wearing a hazmat suit), and the idea of the exhibit is to draw attention to the environmental impact of tobacco use.

In some of the most creative twists on social marketing out there, a myriad of booths are offering fun public health swag (pocket-sized hand sanitizer containers, flashing signal lights, personalized breath mints and colorful ballpoint pens as far as the eye can see). Georgia Southern University has packs of peanuts, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has a brain-shaped stress ball and the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Alaska-Anchorage is giving out packets of Forget-Me-Not seeds. Hey, it’s the state flower.

Admittedly no competition for the lively Vita-Mix demonstration going on in the next booth, two guys from the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service are offering a wealth of food safety information for special populations. Considering yesterday’s foul weather, the “Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms & Hurricanes” caught this blogger’s eye. Did you know a refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours and a full freezer for about 48 hours? But only if you don’t open the door.

The D.C. Department of Health ran out of “condom-mints” early in the day but hopes those who picked up the packages featuring one condom and two mints will take that idea back to their communities.

If you work in public health, stop by the This is Public Health booth to help out with their latest project, “I am Public Health.” They’re collecting profiles of public health professionals as a way to show those interested in the field what they can do with a public health degree.

The Beautiful Minds booth has life-sized photos of inspiring older Americans, such as 75-year-old Ernestine Shepherd of Baltimore, who transformed herself “from an average, middle-aged woman with a sedentary lifestyle into the World’s Oldest Performing Female Bodybuilder by Guinness World Records.”

The Office on Women’s Health booth has heart-shaped refrigerator magnets emblazoned with the signs of a heart attack. Central Michigan University has tire gauges and you can’t help but ask what’s behind the “Sex, Drugs and Mosquito Nets” tote bags at the Boston University School of Public Health booth.

The Public Health Expo runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. What’s your favorite booth?

— D.C.

Above, a visitor at the This is Public Health booth at the Public Health Expo. Photo by Donya Currie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember when I was in college one of the places I worked kept a basket of condoms on in the front of the office. I never actually saw anyone take one, but the basket often needed refilling, that's for sure. Amazing what people will do when you make things easier for them.