MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marine Corps Community Services' Semper Fit and the station's Branch Medical Clinic joined forces May 5 to host the biannual Health and Wellness Fair on the station parade deck.
More than 1,200 personnel attended the event, which featured 30 health-related booths providing information and samples, two jalapeno eating contests, prizes and hands-on events such as throwing basketballs while wearing goggles that simulate drunkenness, said Navy Lt. j.g. Beth Kane, clinic coordinator, BMC.
"We contacted vendors from both on and off base. We had a lot of community support," said the Findlay, Ohio, native. "We worked with the squadrons to make sure they knew about this. This is one way we get our health information out; it supplements the (professional military education) Marines get through their squadrons."
The Afterburner restaurant offered a booth serving breakfast burritos at the fair, which was held from 8 a.m. to noon, and the booths offered information from services such as the American Red Cross, New Parent Support Program, Single Marine Program, drug prevention organizations and healthy living and eating information booths.
"This is all about that one person you need to reach out to. Say if one person learned some information at the breast cancer booth that could potentially save their life or someone they love, then this was all worth it," Kane said. "Our main goal is to support the Marines that's why we're out here."
The fair adds variety to the training Marines normally receive, which helps to get through to Marines who may not pay close attention during a more formal PME, said Bree McGregor, Semper Fit health promotions coordinator, MCCS.
"I was really happy with the turnout and excited by the vendors," McGregor said. "The booths were very hands-on and interactive. I think when they are interactive like that, Marines get more out of it."
The main focus of the Health and Wellness Fair is to make the training more personal for the Marines, McGregor said.
"We find ways to encourage them to interact, such as the drunk goggles," McGregor added. "I think they take more from two minutes doing that then they do by sleeping in the back of the theater being talked to."
One way the fair could improve, however, would be to lengthen the amount of time the fair was open, said Cpl. Brian Duval, financial analyst, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. Since many of the squadrons made the fair a mandatory event, it seemed the Marines spent more time standing in lines to get their checklists signed than getting the opportunity to hear what was being said at the various booths.
"There was a lot of good information there and the people seemed to be really knowledgeable on the subjects," said the Portland, Ore., native. "But the schedule everyone had to work with was just too short."
Semper Fit and the BMC are always working to improve the fairs, though, and events such as the jalapeno eating contest help liven up the events and make them a fun learning environment, Kane said.
"This is good, educational information, and if one person gets something out of it then we were a success," Kane said. "Everyone here was great. We'd like to thank all the vendors for coming out and those station personnel who helped us put this together."
The next Health and Wellness Fair is scheduled for November.