Starting healthy lifestyles during college

by Steffi Lee

Remember to make healthy decisions.

That was the message Simpson College provided students through the Wellness Fair last week.

Nicole Darling, assistant director of student activities and intramural director, said holding the Wellness Fair in the fall is appropriate because it’s the season when students are still adjusting to college life.

“They’re starting to learn about their eating habits, their lifestyles and different types of stresses that they’re dealing with at the beginning of the year,” she said.

Students learned about wellness through information provided by 26 vendors. New Indianola businesses such as CrossFit I-Town and the Indianola YMCA also had booths at the Wellness Fair. People attending had a chance to enter a raffle to win prizes related to wellness. Some options were sweatpants, t-shirts and gift cards.

“We also had a breast cancer awareness table provided by a student which was really nice and informative,” Darling said.

Food vendors such as Chartwells provided nutritional guidelines on how to eat healthy in college. The Wellness Fair also offered massages.

“It’s just a whole event where we like to involve local and area organizations that are promoting healthy lifestyles,” Darling said.

Darling said the Wellness Fair had flu shots this year, which faculty and staff took full advantage of.

“Students had to pay a portion, but faculty and staff got it free with their insurance,” she said.

Among the vendors at the Wellness Fair was Planned Parenthood, sparking a debate among the Simpson community. Some students disagreed with the idea of having a Planned Parenthood booth.

“I think it’s a good option to have,” Darling said. “We’re not choosing sides. We’re offering information because they also have other options at their clinic. It’s not just about abortion that they provide.”

However, Simpson College Students for Life said it was disappointed to see Planned Parenthood at the Wellness Fair.

“It is hypocritical to have the nation’s top abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, at an event that promotes wellness,” the organization’s Facebook status said.

Kendra Burger, founder and president of Simpson College Students for Life, said she was heartbroken to hear about one of her members overhearing a conversation about an abortion pill.

“I just started bawling,” she said.

Burger said the abortion pill, more specifically known as RU 486, is often reported to be dangerous according to physicians’ studies.

Darling said having Planned Parenthood was just to showcase another resource students can look to.

“They need to learn and realize all the options and resources that are out there and available to them as students,” she said. “In order to be able to have a whole wellness fair that provides a variety of things, I think just having them makes it better.”

Burger said although she understands the idea of educating students, she wishes more options other than Planned Parenthood were available.

“I think that would be the step in the right direction,” she said. 

Darling emphasized how Simpson College was not taking sides by having a Planned Parenthood booth. She said all of the vendors at the Wellness Fair were for educational purposes.

In addition to promoting healthy living, Darling also hopes the Wellness Fair served as a networking event for students looking to stay involved with wellness organizations. 

“I hope people take away healthy living tips, but also contacts,” she said. “Through interaction and networking, I hope they find resources.”

Darling said organizations are often looking for interns, so networking at the Wellness Fair was a great way for students to seek out internships.

Darling said she hopes to get even more local resources at the next Wellness Fair, such as organic gardeners.

Raffle winners were announced the following day. Darling hopes students implement the wellness advice they received into their everyday lives.

“I hope they learned something about trying to have healthy lifestyles,” she said.