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Glamorizing healthy decisions


Crook County Health Department and CHIP are sponsoring a health fair at CCMS on Friday

by: JASON CHANEY - From left, Miranda Slack, Megan Frost and CCMS principal Kurt Sloper display a poster advertising the health fair that will take place this Friday at the Crook County Middle School.

Convincing middle school students to eat their vegetables and forgo electronic devices for outdoor exercise is not always easy to do.

To help make those healthy choices and others more appealing to that age group, the Crook County Health Department and Community Health Improvement Partnership are sponsoring a health fair at Crook County Middle School.

The event will take place at CCMS throughout the school day Friday. Powell Butte Community Charter School, Crook County Christian School and Paulina School have been invited to attend, as have home-schooled students throughout the community.

The fair will feature more than 30 booths covering a variety of health-conscious topics.

"Most of them will be doing interactive booths to talk about health activity choices or healthy lifestyle choices," said Carly Rachocki, health promotion specialist for the health department.

In Crook County, the primary health concerns among middle-school-age students are related to diet and activity level.

"We have more overweight and obese eighth-graders than the state average," Rachocki said. "We have some physical activity programs coming. We are having a dance studio come to give kids an idea of other activities they can do besides competitive sports that are offered by the schools."

She added that a nutrition expert will be on hand to talk to students about ways to improve their diet and add more vegetables to their meals.

Beyond the diet and exercise emphases, the fair will focus on relationship health with the help of Saving Grace, and students will encounter two displays centered on reducing tobacco use. The health department will sponsor one booth, while St. Charles is hosting lung display that will provide students tangible evidence of the effects of long-term smoking.

"One (display) will have clear lungs, so that they can listen to it, and one will be set up to sound like a smoker's lungs when you put a stethoscope up to it," Rachocki said.

If that is not enough to hold the interest of students, the fair is offering drawings for door prizes, AirLink will land in the east field outside the school, and kids can even check out a walk-through colon.

CCMS Principal Kurt Sloper is excited to see the event return to the middle school. He praised the variety of attractions the fair has to offer and was particularly encouraged by an upcoming twist on the event this year.

In an attempt to broaden the impact of the event, CCMS students will receive a lesson in college and career readiness as they navigate the fair. The students will carry passports, Sloper explained, that they will use to gather information from the booth operators they meet.

"They have questions they have to ask these health care professionals," he said.

Questions include what kind of skills or knowledge they need to be employed, and what type of education must they have to obtain their career?

"It's a pretty terrific event," he concluded.