Nursing Students Host Wellness Fair at St. Helena High

By Amy Bauer-Heald on December 18, 2007

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St. Helena High School students wearing goggles to simulate blood alcohol levels of .16 were forced to walk the line on Friday, March 1, at a Wellness Fair hosted by nursing students from Pacific Union College (PUC). There was no alcohol present, but using a pair of goggles to distort vision and balance, students got a feel for the kind of control drunk drivers really have—not much.

The drug and alcohol awareness booth was only one of over a dozen booths, each focusing on a different wellness issue; from skin cancer and stress to depression and diabetes. Each booth was designed and hosted by one or more nursing students from PUC, who received clinical credit for the research and work they put into the project. St. Helena students were encouraged to visit as many booths as possible, collecting samples and literature with information that could someday save their lives.

PUC sophomore Josh Moldre and Shelby Talbert, a junior, worked with St. Helena students at the Walk the Line booth. “It’s all fun and laughs until something happens,” Moldre said, referring to the often casual attitude students have toward drinking. “But at our booth they’re having a good time—and if they’re having a good time they’re more willing to learn. Just drawing them over here means we can talk to them about alcohol and give them handouts.”

Student reaction to the Wellness Fair was consistent and overwhelmingly positive. Scribbled on evaluation cards, St. Helena students expressed thanks for the information. “I learned a lot,” one student wrote. Another described the event as “Very thorough, very clear, and very nice.” Most importantly, students found the information relevant and helpful. “There was good info on stuff I was worried about,” confessed one student, “like acne.”

St. Helena High School teacher, Tom Hoppe, who helped coordinate the event said, “The participation is great. If kids like something you can tell. Right now the students are all engaged—they like it. We appreciate what PUC does.”

Sponsored by the department of nursing at Pacific Union College as well as St. Helena Hospital, representatives at the Wellness Fair also included Napa Valley College and the St. Helena Police Department. Police officers used the opportunity to demonstrate self-defense techniques for use in preventing date rape and other violence.

The Wellness Fair is held each year at a different high school in the Napa Valley. Always looking for ways to improve, the PUC nursing department made sure to ask students what else they were interested in.

“We want to meet their needs,” said Carol Williams, assistant professor of nursing at PUC. “The Wellness Fair isn’t designed to be a one day thing, we want it to make a difference.”