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IU students pet therapy dogs learn how to cook healthy meals during National Public Health Week

The IU School of Public Health’s Office of Public Health Practice celebrated National Public Health Week this week with a series of events including food drives and de-stressing activities.

Every year during the first full week of April, the American Public Health Association hosts NPHW to educate people on public health topics ranging from mental wellness to access to health care.

Ta-Kisha Jones, Associate Director of Public Health Practice at SPH, led the team organizing IU NPHW this year. Jones said that NPHW brings communities together to celebrate how people are healthier and stronger when they are united.

The APHA selected “Public Health Wherever You Are” as the theme for the week.

“It is a week to celebrate not only public health professionals, but also the work that is being done across our public health,” Jones said. “It means that whether you’re on campus or off campus, whether you’re a dentist, whether you’re a garbage taker, whether you’re a nurse or just a student, public health is wherever you are. .”

IU’s NPHW had a different theme: “Harnessing Resilience and Moving Momentum.” Jones said this theme focused on celebrating the efforts of students and staff to maintain the health and wellness of everyone on campus.

Jones said the IU NPHW organizing team collected data on public health issues facing students today, such as mental health issues, and used university and community resources to address them.

On Monday, students were able to de-stress by spending time with two therapy dogs from the Monroe County Humane Society outside the SPH.

Experts discussed environmental racism and advocacy in a panel discussion Tuesday, which was the first of a three-part Juneteenth series.

The Office of Public Health Practice also set up student appreciation stations at SPH and the Indiana Memorial Union so students could make bead bracelets and decorate potted plants on Tuesday.

Aly Lewis, a student intern at the IU Student Health Center who worked at the potting station, said she enjoyed interacting with the students and talking to them about public health.

“It’s fun to brighten people’s lives throughout the day with a little flower pot while educating them,” Lewis said.

On Wednesday, SPH career advisors and an invited panel discussed professionalism and inclusion in the workplace.

Rory James, director of the SPH Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, said during the panel that students need to increase their cultural and emotional intelligence because it is an important part of professional development.

“We’ve seen this change where now in this post-pandemic workplace, we’re more attuned to accommodating and accepting people of different identities,” James said.

On Thursday, students participated in a scavenger hunt that promoted physical activity and learned how to prepare an inexpensive plant-based meal.

Katie Shepherd, a registered dietitian at the IU Student Health Center, led the cooking demonstration. Shepherd said that NPHW helps people outside of the public health field learn about the importance of public health.

“Before COVID, people didn’t really know what public health was,” Shepherd said. “These events help people become even more aware of public health and their own health.”

Students can practice mindfulness meditation and learn self-care techniques on Friday via Zoom.

The Washington County Wellness Fair will be held on Saturday, the last day of NPHW IU. It will include free health services and wellness resources, such as health screenings and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and assistance with applying for Medicaid.

Jones said the events so far have been very successful in educating people about their health.

“We’re focusing on eating right, moving healthy, and not just a sedentary lifestyle that we’re used to now with a lot of remote work and battling mental health issues,” Jones said. “Finding a way to integrate it all and be holistically well is key.”

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