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High School’s Health Fair ‘Best One Yet’

A dauntless bicycle rider, hula hoops, jump rope, and video games highlighted Newtown High School’s annual health fair, held in the school’s gymnasium on Wednesday, May 22.

The physically interactive assembly, which focused on promoting health and fitness, was heralded by Newtown District Health Coordinator Judy Blanchard as “our best one yet,” due in part to the activities and attractions that accompanied the informational displays.

One of the main features of the fair was professional mountain bike rider Chris Clark, who skillfully maneuvered his bike through an obstacle course of elevated platforms and ramps, clearing five-foot gaps in a single bound. Mr Clark used his athletic ability as a platform to deliver his message of living a healthy, substance-free lifestyle.

“I talk to the kids about finding something they’re passionate about,” Mr Clark said. “Focusing on that passion is a way to avoid using drugs and alcohol.”

Students were also provided the opportunity to jump rope, hula hoop, and play Dance Dance Revolution, a video game that uses a “dancing pad” as a game controller.

In addition to physical activities, approximately a dozen displays were set up on one side of the gymnasium by a variety of health-conscious organizations, such as Students Against Drunk Driving, Visiting Nurses Association of Newtown, Chartwells School Dining Services, and Therapy Dogs International.

One group of Newtown High School students, which focused on sex education, used a clever name to bring attention to their message. Setting up a display under the name “NHSexperts”, the group —consisting of seniors Kevin Pister, Faaria Ansari, Christian Mather, and junior Ashleigh Teetsel — received a lot of attention from students who attended the fair.

Faaria credited the group’s striking name for the high amount of interest displayed by their peers.

“It’s a fun name. People are attracted to our booth, it got a lot of people’s attention, so it worked,” Faaria said.

Attention is nothing new to the NHSexperts, who were recently awarded first place in the Foundations of Health Science and Technology category at the Connecticut Student Innovation Expo in Hartford on May 4, for a website they designed.

Members of the group hope their website, which provides information to students, teachers, and parents about health and safety issues pertaining to sex, would empower people to make intelligent choices.

“Education is the new birth control,” Kevin said.

Education and prevention was a recurring theme at the health fair. Maureen Schaedler, administrative assistant for Newtown’s Health District, who staffed a display focusing on raising awareness of tick-borne illness, felt efforts to educate the public have paid off .

“The tick season hasn’t been too bad as of now. The majority of ticks have been dog ticks and a lot of people are catching them early, which is important,” Ms Schaedler said. “The education has been effective.”

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