Teraji: Wellness, a prerequisite to all else

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Teraji: Wellness, a prerequisite to all else

One of our best annual community-wide events is next
Wednesday’s

High on Health,

the 2011 Health Faire. It’s free to the public, it’s
educational, and it’s also fun. Just follow the balloons on the
Gavilan College campus until you see the big blue tent and find
yourself at the Student Health Center (parking is nearby).
One of our best annual community-wide events is next Wednesday’s “High on Health,” the 2011 Health Faire. It’s free to the public, it’s educational, and it’s also fun.

Just follow the balloons on the Gavilan College campus until you see the big blue tent and find yourself at the Student Health Center (parking is nearby). You might win organic apples or other goodies in free drawings or perhaps enjoy a relaxing arm massage. You can get a $7 haircut from the Gavilan Cosmetology Department or have your vision checked for free. Most tables offer free samples, buttons, or candy. 

When Alice Dufresne-Reyes, MS, PHN, who serves as Student Health Coordinator and Gavilan College Health Nurse began coordinating the Health Faire 18 years ago, she had only 15 agencies who came to set up tables. Now the range of agencies participating is truly impressive.

This year she showed me a list of 58 confirmed participants from San Benito and Santa Clara Counties a week before the Faire – and you can bet she is still busy trying to add others. 

One of those helped by the Faire in the past is Luciana Fuentes, mom to four children. She was a student at Gavilan when she benefited by getting her blood pressure checked for free and finding out it was high.

“They see a lot of students who don’t even know they have high blood pressure or diabetes,” she said. “They give a referral so you can get follow-up medical treatment too.”  

Fuentes has stayed involved as a dedicated volunteer at the Faire, even though she graduated a number of years ago. This year she is part of the task force to make the campus a smoke-free community. It has been a 10-year effort on the part of students, and it is finally coming to fruition this year.

“What I like most is how everyone joins together to help each other from the vendors to the students to the people from the community.”

Dufresne-Reyes echoes the sentiment: “It is the human touch that connects the college with the community. If we can make a difference for even one person, all the effort is worthwhile.

“When we first started the Faire, a student attended who was planning to commit suicide. Because of the help received at the Faire, that student changed her mind. If we could help even one person each year,” Dufresne-Reyes said passionately, “The year-long preparation for each Faire is worth it. And we know we have helped many.”  

“Our health fair encompasses physical, intellectual, mental, social, and spiritual health,” Dufresne-Reyes said. “Always keep good people around you. They lift you up. Without everybody working as a team, this great collaboration would not be a reality. You drop a pebble in the pond and it sends out ripples to connect to everyone else.”

The Gilroy Library will be there, the Lions Club Vision Van, Melton Acupuncture, Hope Services, and the Veterans Mobile Van, just to name a few.

“This is a vet friendly campus,” Dufresne-Reyes described. “More and more veterans are returning home. The mobile Veterans Van will be here to provide counseling and information on resources for the veteran and the veteran’s family.”

The very caring and dedicated Sister Rachela will be there from St. Louise Regional Center to administer diabetes testing and provide information both bilingually and bi-culturally.

People take advantage of the Faire to get information and advice, including free and anonymous testing for HIV, hepatitis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. There are information tables set up by Santa Clara County Public Transportation, School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County, Community Solutions, San Benito County Public Health, Compassion Pregnancy Services and Breast Cancer Connections. There will also be information on low-cost insurance.

“This is a chance to talk to resident experts and get the free diagnosis and information you need,” Dufresne-Reyes emphasized. 

Because she sees a holistic approach as the ideal way to organize a health fair, there will also be music. “Every aspect of health and safety should be made a part of it,” Dufresne says of the Faire, “Including the spiritual component.”

She sums up her philosophy in a favorite quote by Earnest Boyer, in Campus Life: In Search of Community: “Wellness must be a prerequisite to all else. Students cannot be intellectually proficient if they are physically and psychologically unwell.”

The “High on Health” Health Faire 2011 is Wed., Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gavilan College’s Student Center. For more information, e-mail Alice Dufresne-Reyes at [email protected] or call (408) 848-4791.

HIGHLIGHTS

– Bring your old glasses to donate for the Gilroy Lions Club Van and get a free eye exam with an optometrist

– Have a snippet of blood taken for blood glucose testing (diabetes screening)

– St. Louise Hospital will provide cholesterol checks as well as body fat analysis

– HIV testing with no blood drawn; it is a done with a mouth swab

– Positive energy will be provided by the campus Music Club and Cosmetology Club

– Free raffles, internships in community agencies, and more great resources

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