National Public Health Week (officially scheduled for April 1–7) is a growing movement to create the healthiest nation in one generation. TMCC is joining this movement by hosting our own student-driven, multi-disciplinary and multi-departmental event that highlights how education, when paired with advocacy (and action) can not only make us better people, but to make our campus community a healthier place.
“Although our Student Government Association (SGA) has sponsored a Wellness Week for many years, this year four on-campus organizations joined forces to produce a thorough, thoughtful and exciting event for our campus community,” said Student Life and Development Associate Keith Bingham. “When the SGA, TMCC Wellness Committee and the Athletics Department first met to plan events for Wellness Week, it came to our attention that Biology and Community Health Sciences were putting together events to support Public Health Week. Once the four groups got together the collaboration just took off and the scale of the event grew exponentially.”
The event was, by all standards, a success. Nearly 300 students attended at least one day of the week-long events, participating in fun activities and learning more about the various facets of their health and well-being.
On Monday April 1, TMCC embraced wellness in all its forms with a kickoff event that included an inflatable obstacle course, demonstrations of Latin dance, boxing, yoga, and a generous amount of free, healthy snacks for event participants. Vendors promoting health and wellness tabled the event, and students who completed a scavenger-hunt activity were rewarded with a TMCC Athletics T-shirt.
Twenty-five different organizations provided information and activities focused on various health and wellness-related topics. TMCC’s FLAMES Team (Financial Literacy and Money Education by Students), through a taste test, asked participants to consider the value between name brand and generic pretzels. When used in the right way, a budget can be an effective method of limiting stress and anxiety, and improving one’s overall quality of life— even if budgeting means making small sacrifices (say, with the type of pretzels you buy at the store.)
TMCC’s Tobacco-Free Committee, in partnership with Washoe County Health District, featured a table highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use. The Committee, which recently was awarded a resolution through the TMCC Faculty Senate to support a smoke-free and tobacco-free environment to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors, offered participants opportunities to learn more about the health risks associated with tobacco use, juuling, and e-cigarettes.
The Importance of Public Health
Wednesday and Thursday (April 3 and 4), students from various biology classes presented their research findings into specific topics at tables in the Student Center that were aimed at increasing overall student awareness of public health. Topics included: the behavioral and genetic causes of obesity, understanding (and preventing) diabetes and skin cancer among several others. Students who tabled at the event were surprised by what their research uncovered: pregnancy can be a cause of diabetes (called gestational diabetes) and that a genetic predisposition for obesity occurs in both a single gene and a multi-gene.
Students in the Dental Assisting program provided models of healthy—and not so healthy—teeth as well as a fact sheet filled interesting, strange and unexpected facts about teeth. Encouraging statistics included: the average American sends 38.5 total days brushing their teeth over a lifetime, and buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste every year. One of the strangest teeth-related-facts was: the most highly valued tooth in history belonged to Sir Isaac Newton. In 1816, one of his teeth was sold for $3,633 ($35,700 today.) A more timely fact was that nearly half (48%) of young adults have untagged themselves from a photo on Facebook because of their smile.
"In addition, faculty and staff provided education on the health impacts of climate change, the importance of making healthy choices, and access to local public health organizations that can improve the quality of life of the community," said Biology Professor James Zuzhippala.
The event concluded with a movie screening of “Contagion” Thursday night, a 2011 action thriller which explores the possibility of a worldwide pandemic. The film was followed by an in-depth discussion on the health implications associated with communicable diseases and the public health infrastructure that protects the community by TMCC Biology faculty and an Epidemiologist from the State of Nevada
TMCC Health, Wellness, and Athletics
TMCC Athletics and Wellness were also prominent partners in organizing the week-long event. Athletic Director Dr. Tina Ruff invited keynote speaker Molly Sheridan to campus. Sheridan, a local ultra-marathon runner, coach speaker, and author, began running at the age of 48. “I love her story because she’s an example of how you can start your journey no matter your age or situation,” said Dr. Ruff. Aside from the keynote speaker, several activities bolstered the presence of wellness activities on campus. “It’s really about raising the bar of awareness, and to help individuals become healthier,” she said.
Indeed, Sheridan encouraged her audience to set goals for themselves and to work to accomplish those goals. “I just wanted to see how far I could run,” said Sheridan whose lists of accomplishments include crossing the finish line of a 100-mile race in the Sahara desert, completing the notorious Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley and being the first American to finish the La Ultra (an ultramarathon held between China and Pakistan on a remote road in the Himalayas.) “Just remember—you should be moving—walking, running, hiking, biking—whatever. But, it should be fun,” said Sheridan.
Cameron Tuttle, Chair of the TMCC Wellness Committee, echoed these sentiments. “We wanted to highlight Wellness through these activities as well as engage people to participate in PEX courses, joining our gym and supporting our new soccer teams. We hoped that collaboration with SGA, CHS/Biology depts, health/athletics, and the Wellness Committee would help to reinforce we are here to support our students in everything, Health and Wellness included!”
The event looked toward a future where TMCC Athletics and Wellness opportunities hold a greater part of the experience on our campus—where student-athletes join our campus community and additional PEX classes and wellness workshops become available for students, faculty and staff. Dr. Ruff envisions adding Bootcamp weekend classes and wellness challenges that go beyond the goal of losing weight. Instead, these activities will have a holistic approach focusing on mind, body, spirit, and community—a central theme of all the events this week.
“I couldn’t be happier about how so many people, departments and organizations have come together to make this a truly special week of celebrating Health and Wellness,” said Bingham. We couldn’t agree more.