HANCEVILLE, Ala. — There are not many times when in just a matter of hours you can have blood drawn, get behind the wheel of a vehicle to understand the impact of impaired or distracted driving, and then have a massage to ease any stress the previous activities may have caused. But that and more were available on Tuesday as Wallace State Community College hosted a health fair on campus.
LifeSouth was on hand for a blood drive, the Alabama State Troopers brought a utility vehicle and a pair of special goggles to simulate the feeling of being impaired and the Therapeutic Massage program offered free chair massages. And those were just a few of the offerings on hand during the day. Other programs provided information, activities and treats to students and community members who attended the event.
Almost 20 different stations were set up between college programs and local businesses that joined in on the health fair. Those who wanted to could get screening for blood pressure, weight, body mass index, and bone density.
Hallie Drake a library assistant at Wallace State, served on the committee that planned the event. She said the health fair is a great way to showcase Wallace State’s programs, provide students and the community with a source for free healthcare screenings, and help through the blood donations collected throughout the day. The blood drive was sponsored by the college’s Rotoract Club.
The students, Drake added, really seem enjoy the event. “You really see that they like what they are doing,” she said.
Katie Ogle of Hayden tried her hand at driving the utility vehicle while wearing the “drunk” goggles. After putting on the goggles, she had to walk to the vehicle, get in it, and then manipulate her way between a series of orange cones.
“Walking to the car I was fine,” said the nursing student expecting to graduate in May. “I was super-confident. But I had trouble getting in and it was hard to tell the gas pedal from the brake pedal. When I was driving and saw two cones they turned into 10.”
Ogle said after experiencing that she doesn’t understand why some people ever think it’s a good idea to try to drive after drinking. “You’re putting people’s lives in danger,” she said.
Wallace State Police Officer Brandi Parker said this was the first year they’ve had access to the State Trooper’s utility vehicle to offer simulations for impaired driving through alcohol and drugs as well as for texting and driving.
“Y’all had the hit of the entire day,” said Allen Keener, head of the college’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program. All of his students went through the simulation and told him how hard it was and that it was “eye-opening.”
For Susan Beck and her students in the Human Services program at Wallace State the health fair is a great way to get the word out about their program and share information about the services students can utilize.
Student Olivia Heptinstall of Cleveland said events like this help them raise awareness about mental health issues, which “seem to be taboo in today’s society.”
“We can provide support for students and to people who may be ashamed or not sure where to turn,” she said.
In cooperation with the college’s Heads Up program operated by Cullman Mental Health, the Human Services program is offering a campus support group. The group will meet every other Monday at 3 p.m. in room 606 of the Tom Bevill Health Building. The next meeting is Oct. 3. The support group is geared as a safe, confidential, and open environment where students meet to discuss problems that occur in their day-to-day lives.
“It can’t replace counseling,” she said, “but it’s a space place to turn to.”
LaQuentin Tré Ragland is the director of the Heads Up program at Wallace State and had a table set up for it at the health fair. The program works toward preventing addictions and relapses among students, as well as preventing suicides. He said the health fair was a wonderful way to get the word out to students about their services they offer. Along with supporting the support group offered by the Human Services program, Heads Up also provides space beginning Oct. 17 for representatives of Victim Services to meet the second Wednesday of each month with students needing assistance and support.
For more information about Wallace State Community College, call 256.352.8000 or visit www.wallacestate.edu.