Students urged to get healthy

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – High school students spent time doing Zumba and learning about prescription drug abuse, dating violence and healthy relationships and other topics on Monday.

“I’m a dancer, so anytime you can (dance) is great,” said Maddison Brown, 16, of Cape May Court House.

She’s not new to Zumba, which is a popular fitness program involving dancing and aerobics. It’s “a good way to get moving,” said the high school junior.

Hundreds of students took part in the first health fair at Middle Township High School, which included 11 stations. The Red Cross Club hosted the event.

The health fair covered many topics, including prescription drug abuse; dating violence and healthy relationships; skin protection; oral care and the dangers of chewing tobacco; sports injuries; drunken driving; grief and stress; acupuncture; and sexually transmitted diseases.

Sophomore Ryan Herlihy was among students who used a device that reads a person’s body fat and body mass index. He came away with good results.

That didn’t surprise the 16-year-old of Dennisville. He said being aware of one’s body fat is a good thing.

Curves manager Diane Zalewski said she wasn’t taken back by the results, either. The few students who had used the device early in the health fair were physically fit, she said. Curves is a fitness center for women that is in Cape May Court House.

During the health event, student assistance counselor Charles Short covered prescription drug abuse.

He said he’s there for students if they need someone to talk with.

Short isn’t known to 90-95 percent of students, he said, so the health fair gets his name out. He began at the school district in February.

High school junior Micaela Urquhart said she is glad Short is available, though the 16-year-old of Rio Grande has not been to him before.

Also at Monday’s health fair, Joan Rowland, nurse/health educator with the Cape May County Health Department, talked about nutrition. She told students the need for a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 are fatty acids that are essential for human health. They are not produced by the body. Both help with brain functions. An imbalance could lead to autism, attention deficit disorder and other issues, Rowland said.

Holding a bottle of cranberry juice, she said the drink might look healthy. That’s not the case, though. She said the second ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in many products, particularly beverages.

Then she picked up a container of fish oil. She recommended students take that, which contains Omega 3.

Rowland told students to read labels and research Omega 3 and Omega 6.

“Balance yourself out because this is your life,” she said.

Sophomore John Mooers said he found the presentation interesting, but the 15-year-old of Dennisville, Dennis Township, isn’t worried about his health yet.

High school nurse and Red Cross Club adviser Tracey Nagle said the health fair is expected to be expanded next year.

Monday’s event also enabled the school to get students’ height and weight, which is mandated by the state, Nagle said.


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