HEALTH & WELLNESS FAIR
If Alisha Malkani ’13 has her way, the fact that the MHS Health and Wellness Fair was held on Leap Day will not mean another four years before the event finds another spot on the school calendar. Alisha, who spearheaded this year's event, probably need not worry. Judging by the success of this year’s event, the fair could become an annual occurrence.
Students spent a recent afternoon participating in a holistic health program that featured sessions in traditional, alternative, and complementary practices for maintaining good health. The goal, Alisha noted, was for students to expand their knowledge of ways to live healthy lives. For the fair’s first 75 minutes, girls rotated through brief sessions on nutrition, relaxation/stress management, conditioning for women, and teen health and wellness. They then chose two extended sessions—topics included macrobiotics, bodywork and acupressure, and ayurvedic medicine—and also visited Centennial Hall, where practitioners and vendors offered information about their services and products.
“I think it went well,” said Alisha, who began working on the event in October. “I’ve received a lot of good feedback, recognition, and support.” Comments from the instructors, she added, have been informative and positive, with many remarking on the active involvement of students and indicating that they would like to return to campus. “Overall, students have been very supportive of how the day went and what they learned,” Alisha continued. “Many had no idea what some of these topics were, so I think they were impressed with what they saw.”
Alisha developed the idea through her Horizons site work at the South Berkshire Community Coalition, which advocates for teen substance abuse prevention. The Coalition sponsors workshops at local schools, so when her site supervisor suggested an event at MHS, Alisha decided to apply the SBCC model to health and wellness. She wrote a proposal and pitched her idea to Director of Horizons Alison Basdekis, Associate Director of Horizons Fay Parker, and Director of Health Services Christie Puz. “I wanted to incorporate things that students might not know about. I also wanted to bring people to campus from outside the community and wanted to include students in the project.”
Sutton Moore ’13 said she most enjoyed the ayurvedic workshop offered by Rosy Mann, a senior faculty member of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. “Some of what she taught us connected with things that I learned in Ms. McFarland's religion class, which I thought was really cool,” Sutton said. “The most interesting idea is that everything is connected in your body. I understood the basic concept, but the fair helped me to expand upon those ideas.” Julie Rosa ’12 said that the fair reminded her how important it is to take time for herself, even though that can sometimes be difficult in school. “I appreciated that reminder,” said Julie, who particularly enjoyed information about nutrition. “I like learning about food and how it can be healthy, so I liked the Guido's exhibit,” she said.
The fair revived an event last held on campus around 2003, noted Nurse Puz, and offered another venue for providing girls with health and wellness messages at an early age. She also credited Alisha for developing and following through on its execution. “She got the ball rolling, then we found a day in the calendar that would work,” she said. Added Ms. Parker, “Alisha had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for this project, and that enthusiasm did not wane as the details came together.” The variety incorporated into the fair was also part of its success, noted Ms. Basdekis. “It was important for Alisha to provide girls with opportunities to be exposed to traditional and alternative forms of health, wellness, and care,” she said. “She also showed a tremendous amount of initiative, and it was impressive to see her persistence in pulling it all together.”