Jefferson Students Entertain & Educate Public at Hainesport Township Health & Wellness Fair

Students from the Jefferson College of Nursing and Jefferson College of Health Professions played an integral part at the Hainesport Township, N.J., community health and wellness fair. During the June 4 event, the students educated the community on the technique and importance of health awareness, including breast and testicular self-exams, nutrition, organ donation, child development, radiation and sun exposure, and the role of DNA.

Jefferson biotechnology students and faculty from the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences and Biotechnology worked with children and their parents to extract and see DNA from strawberries to help understand this blueprint for all living things. The participants saw that DNA exists in living things they encounter daily, and it’s not just “magic” in a lab. The experiment highlighted that science is fun and showed how the science of DNA is important for understanding and improving our health.

Dr. Scott Gygax, Biotechnology Program Director, was excited to share his passion for science and teaching with children and their families. “This is a wonderful opportunity to show how science, and more specifically, the biotechnology profession, is inclusive and thrives when in an environment of creativity and innovation that allows for the chance to shift and adapt to people’s needs,” he says.

The Department of Medical Imaging and Radiologic Sciences (MIRS) shared the importance of having respect for radiation and an understanding that radiation is all around us. The “What Am I?” activity helped everyone “see inside” random objects, such as a light bulb, an umbrella, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a seashell. You could hear the oohs, aahs, wows and laughter from the children and adults while they guessed what each X-ray image represented.

The main attractions of the MIRS table were the UV bracelets and sunscreen packets. MIRS administrative assistant Jamie Fusetti and her family made over 300 UV bead bracelets for the event. Exposure to the UV rays from the sun turn the beads from a clear/white color to a variety of pinks, purples and blues. When the beads change color, it serves as a reminder that you have been exposed to the sun’s UV rays and to reapply your sunscreen.

“It’s important for our children to see that we’re all a part of a community,” says Fusetti, whose daughter joined the health fair this year. “Even if we don’t live in the same neighborhood, it’s so important that we care for and help each other because we’re all in this together.”

Students and faculty from the nutrition and dietetic practice program shared their expertise on preparing and following a healthy eating lifestyle. They offered suggestions and handouts focusing on small changes and healthy (yet inexpensive) foods. As aspiring registered dietitian nutritionists, graduate students Kelly Gibison and Karola Torres adapted family-friendly recipes and prepared several popular tasting options.

“A goal for our graduates is to engage in activities that promote social, professional and environmental sustainability,” says Kati Fosselius, director of the MS in nutrition and dietetic practice program. “Being with the Hainesport community shows the importance of advocating for all members of our communities to promote evidence-based nutrition and healthy living strategies.”

The event fostered learning and engagement across all booths. “I loved having the opportunity to engage and educate guests and vendors on health and wellness, but the best part was learning about science and health from the other departments at Jefferson,” says nursing student Victoria Batista.

Nursing students and faculty helped run Dr. Jack’s “Teddy Bear Clinic” for 120 children. This clinic works to minimize children’s fears of going to the doctor’s office or hospital. Children engaged in medical play with the opportunity to see and play with equipment used in these environments. They took the stuffed animals from the point of admission through the exam, weight check, X-rays and treatment (with Band-Aids). The children even brought their bears into the “operating room” where they wore bonnets and gowns. After completing the clinic, the kids got certificates of health for their furry friends, drawing pages and crayons. Each family also received a “boo-boo bunny,” a child-friendly ice application for minor bumps and bruises.

“This is what collaboration, partnership, population health and community is all about,” says Dr. Mary Bouchaud, associate professor in the College of Nursing. “We put interprofessional education and practice and team-building into real-time applications that will last in the minds of our students and our community partners.”