by Beth Stauffer


On Wednesday, September 26th and Thursday, September 27th, 2012, the East Allen County School system held a 6th Grade Focus on Health event at Meadowbrook School.  700 students from the area’s middle schools, including New Haven Middles School, Leo, Heritage, Woodlan, and Prince Chapman, attended the event.

Longtime event organizer, Meadowbrook teacher Mr. Tom Kneller, said of the Focus on Health event, “These are boys and girls that are kind of lost.  The tween years are such that every time you look in the mirror, you’re looking a different body.  This event serves to connect them with different resources and maybe help them feel more comfortable making good choices and asking pertinent questions.”

Jasmine Stauffer takes Samantha Sales Blood Pressure

Nearly 20 different health education activities and demonstrations were set up in the Meadowbrook gym to allow students a chance to take an active role in exploring the importance of making healthy choices while discovering how to take personal responsibility for their own health.  Health checks available to the students included blood pressure and vision screenings, flexibility testing, and height, weight and Body Mass Index calculations.

Jasmine Stauffer, a New Haven High School student, was one of the student volunteers participating in the Focus on Health Event.  According to Jasmine, this was her second year helping out by conducting blood pressure screenings for the 6th graders.  On Thursday, I observed her expertly taking the blood pressure of student Samantha Sales, who I’m happy to report told me her blood pressure is “Good!”

Harriet Stemfeld and Beverly Payne, Focus on Health exhibitors from Lutherans for Life, had a very interesting display about the development of unborn babies.  The exhibit featured a hands on component, of which Mrs. Stemfeld said “The kids are just fascinated by this!”  I was, too!  6th graders Aleeyah Lounsbery and Brooke Kurtz agreed, saying “This is my favorite station!”

The 6th grade boys, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy the Parkview’ Hospital Don’t Drink and Drive exhibit.  For this interactive exhibit, students essentially don what is a pair of beer goggles that simulate the effects of alcohol and then try to walk across a straight line on the floor to disastrous results.  Student Scott Keeran said of this exhibit,”I really learned a lot from this.  It was my favorite thing all day!”

Amy Poffenberger from the American Red Cross was on hand to provide information to the students about emergency preparedness.

Amy Simmons from the No Alcohol No Tobacco (NAND) Indiana project encouraged students to fill out a pledge card stating they will say No to alcohol and tobacco.  Ms. Simmons also worked with the students preparing a paper chain of ideas of things the students can do instead of drinking or using drugs.  A drug identification kit was also on display from Project Drug Free Indiana.

Kelly Basham, an IPFW Nursing Student, talked with students about how much sugar we consume as Americans by drinking pop and other sugary foods.  She discussed the importance of eating a healthful diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.

Mary Nance, the K-12 Outreach Coordinator for the Northeast Indiana Area Health and Education Center, was at Focus on Health to promote health careers among the 6th graders.  She discussed the importance of being strong in Math & Science as a foundation for a future career in health sciences.

Sarah Tucker from Parkview’s Service Line, which assists those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, spoke with the students about the effects of stress and ways to positively manage it.  “Stress is a real challenge to every body at every age,” Ms. Tucker told the students.

Janelle Carnahan of Tobacco Free Indiana had an interesting exhibit that gave the students a look at the dangers of smoking.

Of the Focus on Health event, Woodlan teacher Shelly Gibson said “It really gives the students an awareness of health and what they need to keep track of.”  Another Woodlan teacher, Lynn Hixson, added “Focus on Health really gives them an opportunity to see the choices they make now will have an impact on their health later.”

By all appearances, this was an outstanding event for the EACS 6th grade students.  Mr. Tom Kneller, organizer of the event, and the staff of Meadowbrook deserve a tremendous amount of credit for putting on this Focus on Health event for students each fall, even though they they aren’t quite done yet–In October, the EACS 2nd graders will have their own Focus on Health event followed by the 4th graders in November.


POSTED: 09/30/12 at 8:11 am. FILED UNDER: News, Schools