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Students Partner with East Greenbush YMCA to Promote Children’s Health

May 14, 2010

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First year UAlbany MPH student Eziafa Oduah assists at the East Greenbush YMCA

Eziafa Oduah, a first-year MPH student concentrating in health policy and management, talks about the dangers of cyber-bullying.

Children today face a variety of stressful situations, from academic and sports commitments to social events, all of which potentially impact youth development. A team of students from the University at Albany School of Public Health recently collaborated with the East Greenbush branch of the Capital District YMCA to provide information to parents and children on identifying sources of stress for children and how stress affects a child’s development, and a host of other health issues.

The students presented on a range of topics, including "Kids Being Kids: How to Help Your Child Handle Stress" to "Growing up Internet: Is Your Child Safe Online?"

At one booth, a team of students shared information on the potential dangers and potential public health ramifications from Internet use such as privacy protection, cyber-bullying and excessive "screen time."

Participants also learned about the public health implications of cell phones, including the risk to pedestrians and bicyclists of inattentive drivers and recent research associating cell phone use with an increased risk of tumor formation.

UAlbany MPH/MD student Ryan McIntyre

Ryan McIntyre, a third-year joint MD/MPH at UAlbany, discusses healthy snacks with children at the East Greenbush YMCA.

Families also learned how healthy eating and exercise play a vital role in childhood development, and participated in a taste test using tap water from different areas and bottled water, to see if anyone could tell the difference.  Information on the leaching of byproducts from plastic bottles into water was provided.

"Healthy Kids Day gave us an opportunity to provide public health education by asking, 'what are the needs of this community?' and then by working hands-on to help meet those needs," said Arielle Bernstein, a second year MPH student from Woodmere, N.Y., and co-organizer of the event.

"Although we are still students in the classroom, working with the YMCA allowed us to become partners in the community," said Bernstein. "I know we all left that day feeling utterly exhausted and yet utterly inspired."

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