September 22, 2000

Health Fair Helps Educate Cornellians

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Scores of students and other Cornell community members filled the Biotechnology building yesterday at the Wellness 2000 Health Fair that exhibited over 30 booths and many speakers. The fair informed visitors on traditional and nontraditional therapies and how to improve health and lifestyle.

The purpose of this year’s fair was to “help individuals move forward on the continuum of health by providing education and interactive experiences,” Beth McKinney ’82 said.

McKinney is the acting director of the Cornell Wellness Program, which sponsored Wellness 2000.

“[We wanted to] put together something that was varied and interesting,” McKinney added.

The visitors to the fair were treated to live swing music and the chance to win one of many prizes, with a grand prize of a round-trip airline ticket on US Airways.

Wellness 2000, like the Wellness Program, was targeted towards employees of Cornell, though the fair was open to everyone in the Cornell community. Admission to the fair was free and most of the visitors to the fair were faculty and staff, though many students were also present.

Booths were set up by different organizations that informed onlookers about different aspects of health and well-being. Visitors to the fair interacted with some of the displays by taking blood tests, trying out various therapies, testing ergonomic desk positions and feeling the effects of alcohol while being sober by wearing specialized glasses.

Many of the booths were associated with traditional medicine, including those sponsored by the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross Cooperative, optometrists and dentists.

The opportunity to have a cholesterol blood test at the health fair was singled out by McKinney because it is the only time the University offers this test, which is administered by employees of the Cayuga Medical Center every other year.

“[Knowing your] cholesterol is important for a healthy heart,” Bob Keefner, director of the Clinical Lab Service at Cayuga Medical center, said.

Keefner said he expected over 100 people to take the five dollar test.

“If you know your cholesterol is high then you can modify your health and see a doctor. You get the cholesterol level lower to prevent coronary problems,” he added.

Nontraditional medicine — also called “complimentary therapy” at the fair — enticed people to try alternative therapies.

Visitors could try acupuncture or Reiki (pronounced ray-key) therapy, which is “an ancient holistic method of restoring the body, mind and spirit to its natural state of well-being” that probably originated in Tibet, according to a brochure from the booth.

“Reiki is not like massage. It’s an energy exchange,” Reiki master Diane Hecht said.

Denise Atesoglu ’02, who tried both therapies, said that “Reiki was very relaxing. Acupuncture hurt, but I think its not supposed to hurt.”

Reiki is becoming more widely used in New York City hospitals, including the renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, according to Hecht.

“After surgery, you can heal faster, feel less pain, and have a better state of wellness,” Hecht added.

The fair also included booths from different Cornell departments and organizations, including Cornell Fitness Centers, Cornell Women’s Resource Center, and Gannet Health Center.

The Cornell Police brought a set of specialized glasses that were designed to make the wearer feel as though he or she is drunk, with a blood alcohol level between 0.17 and 0.20.

The wearer was then asked to touch the tip of a pen, throw and catch a ball, and walk along a straight line. For the most part, these were exceedingly difficult tasks, as people failed miserably on the latter two tests.

“The purpose of this is to show you what it’s like when you’re intoxicated. You look through drunk eyes with a sober mind,” Officer George Sutfin said.

Many students as well as faculty tried the glasses and took the test.

“If we come here and help one student, then maybe we’re saving somebody’s life … Some people think it’s okay to drive after two or three drinks, but not even one drink is okay,” Sutfin said.

The booth informed people about the realities of drinking with sobering facts — it takes a 160-pound male 3.2 hours to get completely sober after two drinks, and a 120-pound female 5.3 hours.

Wellness 2000 also featured eight speakers who each spoke for about a half hour. Topics ranged from recipes for vegetarian dishes to health care proxies to swing dancing.

McKinney said that since there was no keynote speaker, it was actually easier for people to come to the health fair throughout the day.

Archived article by Peter Lin