KOKOMO, Ind. — Where do you go if you need to see a doctor? What if you need food, or a copy of your birth certificate?
Students found answers to those questions and more at Tuesday’s Indiana University Kokomo Health and Resource Fair.
“This allows our students to see how all agencies in the community work together for the greater good,” said Stephanie Pratt, clinical assistant professor of nursing, who served on the planning committee for the event. “Our students may not know these resources are available to them, and this brings them to campus where they can see them in person.”
Campus services including the resource navigator, the Cougar Closet, Cougar Cupboard food pantry, and counseling and psychological services hosted information tables in Alumni Hall, distributing handouts and contacts. They were joined by Kokomo-area organizations including health care providers from Community Howard Regional Health, the Howard County Tobacco Free Coalition, the Howard County Health Department, Indiana Health Center, Bona Vista, and more.
In addition, students in Pratt’s community health nursing class staffed information tables, providing resources relevant to college students such as healthy eating, mental health, red flags in a relationship, sexual health, and the risks of drinking alcohol.
Jessica Cage, Jessica Reinhart, and Tegan Altman researched food insecurity, and prepared a brochure listing area food pantries to distribute.
“A lot of people our age struggle with food insecurity,” said Reinhart, from Logansport. “Students have financial constraints with paying for school. We provided information about local food pantries, including the Cougar Cupboard, making sure everyone has access to resources and are familiar with them.”
Reinhart added she hadn’t known that IU Kokomo had a food pantry and was surprised that many churches also host them.
Cage, from Tipton, said teaching people how to take care of themselves is part of being a nurse.
“Education is a big part of this profession,” she said. “The more we educate people, the more health we can bring them. Nutrition is a big part of health. Food can be healing in and of itself.”
Pratt said the fair provided an applied learning experience for her students, as they used what they’ve learned in their nursing class to teach others.
“It’s an opportunity for them to be involved and use their knowledge,” she said. “Many of them have said they’ve been to educational fairs before but have never been the person behind the table. It’s a chance for them to step into their career roles as health educators.”
Community Howard Regional Health partnered with the campus to offer the fair and had several of its providers on hand for the event.
George Mast, director of business development, said it was extension of a long-time relationship between the campus and hospital.
“We love to do outreach in the community, and engage with IU Kokomo students,” he said. “We want them to know the resources we have to help them improve their health, and about career opportunities down the road.”