The Mills Health and Community Service Fair will make its annual appearance on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
For two hours, Toyon Meadow will host 40 to 50 booths offering free goodies and valuable information to students about various community programs and services in Oakland, Berkeley and the surrounding Bay Area. Organizations will include Planned Parenthood, Girls Moving Forward, and a representative from the Tang Center at UC Berkeley. Mills resources such as APER and the Health and Counseling Services within DSL will also be represented.
A tradition originally started by the Food Services Department, the fair has been an annual campus event for close to 20 years. Since then, it has been one of the most effective avenues for bringing the Mills community together.
APER Director Themy Adachi explained, “One of the most important contributions of the Health Fair was it became one of the biggest community builders on campus.”
“When we added the all-campus picnic and invited vendors from off-campus, suddenly it was a big showcase for Mills and for local Bay Area organizations. It became a festive gathering in addition to being educational,” Adaini said.
In addition to various organizations with tables of information, there will also be plenty of physical activity taking place. Massage and chiropractic services will be available, as well as See Jane Run, a company that examines a woman’s gait in order to fit her with the proper athletic shoes for her feet.
“I bring people [to the fair] that I think are really student friendly,” said Health Services Director Cynthia Turner.
This year’s will be the eighth fair that Turner has overseen, and the first for her new part-time assistant, Erica Browne.
Turner and Browne have worked together to contact such sources as the Children’s Hospital, Bay Area Women Against Rape, and the Oakland Police and Fire Departments; all of whom will be in attendance on Wednesday.
“Whether it’s discovering a local business that promotes wellness and sustainability, or connecting with a community-based organization that cultivates youth leadership, we’ve collaborated with a number of community partners whose work, resources, and products we feel reflect a myriad of interests,” Browne said.
Turner said that often, the vendors are eager to participate in the fair, at times calling her and asking how they can participate. She recalls the manager of Jamba Juice, who set up shop at the event for two years in a row and had a marvelous time.
“He was surrounded by young women, and he just loved being there,” Turner said.
Students have also had their share of fun at the fair in years past. Senior Elina Rios, who lived in the Wellness Living Learning Community as a freshwoman and has been its RA ever since, always encourages her residents to participate. Last year, her floor made stress balls out of balloons and flour and distributed them along with information about iron deficiency in preparation for the blood drive later that year.
“If we don’t get a booth this year, I am still going to make it mandatory for my residents to help out at the fair, volunteer labor!” Rios said.
Whether she’s working or not, however, Rios always enjoys the event.
“I love the Health Fair. I always enjoy seeing the different booths and companies that come,” she said.
“I enjoy listening to what they have to offer, even if I’m not planning on getting involved.”
When the day is done, the staff working on the Health Fair hopes that students will leave with better knowledge of the resources available to them on and off the Mills Campus.
“I feel that one of the most important life skills a student can take away from college is learning how to deal with stress in a healthy way, how to take care of yourself in a holistic way that will enable you to live life fully,” said Adachi.
“So we bring a lot of health, fitness and safety resources to campus and also present our own Mills resources that can help people lead healthy lives.”
Student feedback is also greatly appreciated. “In addition to visiting the booths and gathering information, we hope that Mills students will participate in this important event by providing ideas and suggestions on how to grow the event, and ultimately make it more successful and reflective of the campus spirit,” said Browne.