Wellness Expo helps students THRIVE

By Alyssa Apuzzio
Correspondent

The lounge between Travers and Wolfe halls was buzzing on Tuesday, March 29, during the third annual THRIVE: Wellness Expo. Over 25 vendors volunteered at the event, providing health and wellness techniques and education. Among the vendors were Dining Services, Health and Exercise Science Club and Active Minds.

Dining Services Registered Dietician Aliz Holzmann, who helped organize the event, said that she thinks the expo will help enlighten students.

“I think students will be surprised how many components are involved in wellness,” Holzmann said. “There are physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental and occupational components that are a part of wellness.”

One of the most popular stands was run by Attitudes in Reverse, a non-profit program that creates awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. Attitudes in Reverse brought three therapy dogs with them to the Wellness Expo, including a Pomeranian and an Old Scotch Collie.

“Looking at a dog releases oxytocin (known as the love or bliss hormone) and petting a dog releases serotonin (a mood stabilizer),” said Tricia Baker, the founder of Attitudes in Reverse.

Students play with therapy dogs. (Kimberly Ilkowski / Arts & Entertainment Editor)
Students play with therapy dogs. (Kimberly Ilkowski / Arts & Entertainment Editor)

Baker said that she and other volunteers for Attitudes in Reverse visit public schools and other events, educating people about suicide prevention and mental stress.

“We have spoken to 25,000 students over the past five years,” Baker said. “Only 40 percent of people with mental health problems get help. We don’t want people to suffer in silence.”

The College’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) also promoted mental health at their stand. Visitors colored in intricate images with the basket full of colored pencils laid out on the CAPS tables.

“Studies have shown that coloring reduces stress and art has been known to have therapeutic qualities,” CAPS Licensed Professional Counselor and Coordinator of Outreach Robbin Loonan said. “We like to introduce things to students that are fun and engaging.”

Another crowded area was the Office of Campus Police Services’s stand, with one activity where students wear beer goggles and try to walk in a straight line.

Officer Scott Leusner explained that the beer goggles “simulate a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .07 to .10 and distort your vision as if you were impaired.”

The College’s Human Education Resource Officer (HERO) Campaign for Designated Drivers also emphasized the importance of not drinking and driving. The campaign seeks to end drunk driving accidents nationwide by promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers.

“The HERO Campaign has been around for 10 to 15 years, and 2015-2016 is the first year TCNJ has adopted the program,” said junior elementary education and iStem double major Annie Goodwin, who was chosen to be one of the College’s Heroes, a designated driver, along with sophomore psychology Grace Hawruk.

In addition to intellectual and emotional health, many areas were designated for physical health. Executive Chef for Resident Dining Lauren Franchetti provided a tasting sample of her Tunisian vegetable stew and offered recipe cards to onlookers.

Next to Franchetti’s stand was Spice Things Up, which provided the health benefits of spices. Various spices were on display in bowls for students to smell, such as ginger, cumin and sage, and add spices to their own popcorn.

BodyZen Massage Therapy set up multiple massage chairs and offered complimentary massages to visitors. The chairs were constantly filled with a look of satisfaction across participants’ faces.

There were also raffles for free prizes, such as yoga mats, a Whole Foods gift card and a Fitbit. In addition, free water and fruit were offered, along with body oil testing from doTERRA Essential Oils.

“I like all of the free stuff,” sophomore early education and English double major Emily Schwartz said. “There are a lot of cool things here.”

Overall, students enjoyed the expo.

“It was really interesting to see the research behind things, like how coloring relieves stress,” senior business major Carlie Schwartz said. 

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