HPU's National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week has come and gone during the first full week of April at HPU’s Hawai’i Loa Campus. It was a week full of education and health promotion, wellness activities, and student body engagement by the College of Health and Society’s Public Health students. I interviewed my fellow peer, Judith Bernaldez on her participation in the FREE Public Health Week events as well as her interests in her major.

If you’ve missed the Hawai’i Loa activities this past week, don’t fret - I’m here to break down the schedule of events and a short recap for you, having participated in them myself!

Monday: Health Fair

The students of the PH 3030 Health Promotion and Wellness Management class, as well as other on-campus and community organizations, held a health fair on the HLC front lanai from 12-3pm. There were poster boards of information on display, fun activities that engaged and educated students and faculty passing by, and lots of free food and prizes for participants! Many of the tables and booths focused on different topics and dimensions of health from physical, emotional, intellectual, interpersonal, and environmental wellbeing.

Tuesday: Cooking Demo

The Blue Zones Project of Hawai’i, which is a Kaneohe based non-profit organization dedicated to improving health, had student interns perform healthy cooking demos in two sessions from 12-2pm on the HLC front lanai. During these demos, students and faculty were able to learn about the Blue Zones Project and how to get involved in this relatively new, statewide movement while also enjoying delicious healthy food. For more information on Blue Zones, you can check them out on their website.

Wednesday: Student Lectures

The students of the PH 3040 Health Education Planning, Theory & Practice class held a student lectures series discussing critical health issues among college students. With these lectures, we wanted to focus on this main question: how can we make the HPU student population healthier, happier and successful? In room AC 210, the series of lectures were on healthy & cheap snacking, the dangers of processed and hidden sugars, whole foods plant-based eating, proper handwashing, and healthy intimate partner relationships. In room NA 1, the series of lectures were on physical activity, the dangers of alcohol, practicing safe sex, and sleep. The rad thing about these lectures were that they were completely student led and the delivery of information was completely RELEVANT to our age group and they were soooo fun.

Thursday: HPV Documentary

The Generation Action Club hosted a free screening of the documentary, “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” in NA 1 from 12-2pm. This documentary follows the stories of five women whose lives were drastically changed by the human papillomavirus. An important takeaway from this documentary is how silent of a threat HPV can be and how HIGHLY contagious it is for both men and women. It highlights the importance of practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly - always better to be safe than sorry.

My fellow peer, Judith Bernaldez, is a fourth year Public Health student with a specific interest in the promotion of women’s health as well as maternal and child health. She is currently interning at the Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Branch and Secretary of the Public Health Club. She attended most of the events during NPHW and I asked her a few questions about it at its close.

What was your favorite event and why?

I loved the student lectures because I was able to learn about so many different topics in regards to health. I got a chance to interact with my friends and classmates I don’t usually talk to, and we also were given the chance to practice our health promotion skills with a real audience/community.

What does public health mean to you?

Public health focuses on increasing the quality of life for a population. The main goal would be ALL populations but you really have to take on one important and changeable population at a time.

Do you think NPHW at HPU achieved its purpose? In other words, was it a success?

Yes it was! For us, we got to practice our skills, get a feel of working in the field, and I think we created awareness of public health topics for college students. We used simpler and easily understandable terms when teaching the general public. It was fun for all of us current students and I hope in the future it’ll be just as fun for the entire HPU.