Sunday, November 1, 2015

Passion and pens at the Public Health Expo

Undergraduate students taking a class called “Solutions to Environmental Problems” came up with a way to turn the school cafeteria’s used cooking oil into fuel that powers Chicago city buses. And the byproduct, glycerin, is the main ingredient in the adorable travel-sized bottles of soap at the Loyola University Chicago booth (#759) at the Public Health Expo.

Those bottles of “Biodiesel Hand Soap” courtesy of the school’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability are just one of the thousands of Expo giveaways that range from water bottles to ballpoint pens to squeezable stress relievers in the shape of hearts, bears, chili peppers and bears.

But the free public health swag isn’t the only reason the Expo rocks. Stop by San Jose State University booth (#735) and find out about the school’s online MPH program as well as how the campus recently went tobacco-free. Robert Rinck told me of a time before the tobacco-free status when a class of 24 students picked up 4,000 cigarette butts in the span of an hour from the area around the school’s library. He’ll gladly share his public health passion and offer you an organic lollipop.

The folks at the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability’s booth (#1111) will give you a water bottle with the center’s #HOWIWALK logo and tell you how they encourage people with disabilities to get and stay active. If you’re a fan of, say, the University of Florida, you’ll love learning about the school’s innovative Center for Arts in Medicine (#858). They offer an online graduate certificate in Arts in Public Health and a master of arts in Arts in Medicine. Class titles include “Arts and Design in the Environment of Care” and “The Art of Self-Care.”

Why is there a long line snaking its way to the Walden University booth (#729)? Because a guy with a brilliant mustache is serving up free bags of Garrett popcorn. Across the Expo, fun-size candy bars are everywhere. You’ve never seen so many differently styled ballpoint pens. Some booths have lip balm, hand sanitizer and first-aid kits. At the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s booth (#1436), a whiteboard beckons visitors to answer the question of the day (today’s is “What is a Food Citizen?”).

Stop by Everything APHA (#941) in the center of the Expo and get some snazzy ribbons for your badge, buy an ‘I Love Public Health’ T-shirt from APHA Press, and find out anything you ever wanted to know about the Association's member groups at the many APHA Section booths (booths #1429).

Luckily, many booths offer bags to hold your public health souvenirs. The tricky part will be fitting all the goodies into your suitcase.

— D.C.

Above from top to bottom: Opening General Session keynote speaker Freeman Hrabowski signs his book, "Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement," at the Public Health Expo; an Expo attendee stops by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future booth; and the University of Texas booth welcomes public health students. Photos by Donya Currie

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