Health fair teaches NU about living fit and well

Jeff Stone

Although an annual health fair may not sound very seductive, free massages turned on some people to the benefits of Tuesday’s event.

“I’m a massage therapist myself,” said Ruben Saldana, an account representative for Northwestern University Information Technology. “It will be nice to get one instead of give one.”

The Health and Benefits Fair in Norris University Center’s Louis Room gave the NU community a chance to address some health concerns.

Health and health care groups, 53 in all, participated in the fair, which the Athletics and Recreation Department has held the Health and Benefits Fair for the past eight years.

The health fair also included presentations about pilates and yoga, stress, Medicare, and work and family.

In addition to educating and informing, the fair offered the convenience of multiple free screenings that normally cost money, said Nancy Tierney, NU’s director of fitness and wellness.

“We have two nurse educators, one showing how to do breast self-exams and another who is giving free blood pressure screenings,” said Nancy Austin, manager of public relations for Evanston Northwestern Healthcare.

The hospital’s longtime partnership with the university helped bring the fair together.

“This is very helpful for students to get more health information and learn more about services in the area,” Austin said.

To entice people to come, most tables at the fair feature free gifts for attendees.

In addition, anyone who collected signatures from the representatives at 15 tables was eligible for a raffle.

Some of the larger prizes included tickets for a Chicago Bulls game, round-trip flights on United Airlines, a one-year parking permit and a Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center membership.

The event was open to students, faculty, staff and Evanston residents. But the fair usually attracts more faculty and staff, Tierney said.

But a few students, such as Weinberg senior Shivani Patel, said they appreciated what the fair had to offer.

“You don’t get many convenient opportunities for health fairs as a student,” she said. “I heard it would have health tests and fitness tests, and have free food.”

“This is a neat opportunity that rarely happens,” Tierney said.

She continued: “You have so many different groups at one time. It’s hard to understand why more people don’t take advantage. I don’t think a lot of people appreciate it until they come and experience (the fair).”

Despite the lower-than-expected attendance at the fair, Tierney said she considers the event to be a success and would continue holding the event each year.

“We are hoping for 800 to 1,000 people in a three-hour period,” she said. “This is our third year at Norris and we have just as many, if not more, sponsors.”