PISCATAWAY — The gym was a whir of motion as Piscataway Vo-Tech students took a Zumba fitness class as part of the first health fair on the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools campus.
“The more you move, the healthier you are,” the students were told by said student assistance counselor Keshia Golding-Cooper, who joined the class.
Dozens of students got into the spirit and moved to pounding rock music behind Zumba instructor Carmalee Foster of Expressions of Fitness in Randolph. And that was just one of the options during the May 25 event, held as part of the Healthy Schools initiative funded by a state grant. Others in the gym were playing video games that require motion, such as “Dance Dance Revolution” and Wii Fit.
“We plan on doing it every year and making it bigger,” said Golding-Cooper, who coordinated the program with school nurse Michael Sexton and health technologies teacher Chantel Rogers.
Students and staff were treated to healthy snack options provided by Aramark, the school’s caterer. The choices included apples, orange slices and fruit cups, as well as beets, potato slices and broccoli. Students were encouraged to drink water rather than the popular energy drinks.
In the corridor outside the gym, staff members were taking advantage of cholesterol screening provided by St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, and health technologies students were administering blood-pressure tests and taking pulses. There also was screening for sun damage to skin and a device that used ultra-violet light to reveal improper hand-washing.
Kathleen Iannuzzo, a registered nurse in the Community Mobile Health unit at St. Peter’s, was giving instruction of detecting breast cancer and dispensing some of the “health swag” students were collecting, which included bracelets, pencils and zippered plastic cases.
Piscataway Vo-Tech is one of four MCVTS campuses participating in the healthy schools effort, which is aimed at achieving academic success through better nutrition and more physical activity. The program is funded by a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control grant through the state Department of Health and Senior Services. It is being administered in Middlesex and Somerset counties by EmPower Somerset, which funded the Zumba instruction and provided “Fatal Vision” goggles to show students how their perception and coordination would be affected by various degrees of intoxication.
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