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Penn State Mont Alto hosts first Pediatric Health Fair

April 14, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. - In just eight weeks, Penn State Mont Alto nursing students proposed, organized and pulled off their first Pediatric Health Fair, which drew hundreds of people to the school campus on Saturday.

Forty-eight students working toward associate degrees were charged with finding a creative way to promote healthy living and disease prevention, according to their professor, Linda Carl.

"Each team (of two) was responsible to pick a topic and set up a booth about that topic," an enthusiastic Carl said.

One goal was to end childhood obesity, which Carl feels would eliminate Type II diabetes if successful.

An obvious highlight of the health fair was the teddy bear clinic.

"When we teach them how to cake care of their bears, they learn how to take care of themselves," Carl said.

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Nursing student Amy Lyman asked the stuffed animals' owners for a list of ailments. She then would place a stethoscope to the toys' chests, prepare splints and wrap wounded paws.

"Teddy bear clinics are being done all over the country, but in different ways," Lyman said. "It's a form of therapeutic play."

The practice is thought to reduce anxiety and increase comfort in interactions with health-care professionals, Lyman said.

She also talked about the importance of hand washing with children.

Outside, firetrucks, ambulances and the Penn State Children's Hospital's Pediatric Mobile Intensive Care Unit were open to the public, but the biggest crowd was at the university's Life Lion helicopter shortly after its 1:30 p.m. landing.

"It's awesome," Milan Reidout of Chambersburg, Pa., yelled as the helicopter touched down.

The 5-year-old's favorite part of the event was "watching the clown because the clown was so funny."

Other booths at the fair featured topics including sports injury prevention, building strong bones, poisons, safety seats and allergy awareness.

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