HPA Students Help Raise Health Awareness at Various Events

by John Conroy

Pictured from left to right: Alexi Dubunfraut, Brian Beaudet, Vanessa Ramirez, Allison Herman, and Kaitlin Herzog.
The Exercise Science Organization (ESO), a student-run group within the School of Education’s Health and Physical Activity (HPA) Department, has been involved in a variety of health-related events at the University level as well as around Pittsburgh. The ESO was created in 2000, with junior and senior HPA students leading the group and faculty members providing guidance.
The students attended the Kites Take Flight for Childhood Cancer event on Sunday, October 5, at Highmark Stadium near Station Square. Lending Hearts—which provides emotional and social support to children and young adults with cancer and their families—sponsored the event, which focused on raising awareness for childhood cancer. ESO promoted physical activity with games for children and their families to promote healthy lifestyle and activity. 
On Sunday, October 19, students from ESO participated in the Fan Fest & Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair, sponsored by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about cardiovascular health. Starting at 1 p.m. in the Peterson Events Center, the Exercise Science Organization conducted fitness assessments—such as blood pressure, body composition, and cardiorespiratory and flexibility tests—for attendees. 
The ESO also hosted the 9th annual Career Panel on Thursday, October 23, which invites newly admitted Pitt juniors to meet professionals in careers that represent the health-fitness industry. This year’s panel will feature a physical therapist, health coach, corporate wellness director, strength coach, chiropractor, and occupational therapist. Students have a chance to meet all professionals and ask questions regarding career path choice.
Faculty members, graduates, and students from the Health and Physical Activity Department presented at the Obesity Society's Annual Scientific Meeting from November 2-7, 2014. Taking place in Boston, this meeting has grown to be one of the world’s largest gatherings of obesity professionals at all stages of their careers, including leading obesity scientists presenting cutting-edge research. The gathering brings together world-renowned speakers, researchers, and clinicians to educators, advocates, policymakers and practitioners.
Finally, at the school-level, a number of HPA students are engaged in a new University of Pittsburgh health promotion campaign to encourage physical activity in the workplace. 
“They have been very creative with their ideas and are having a significant impact on the University community,” said HPA Chair John Jakicic. “Since this campaign launched I have received a number of emails from University administrators commending the department for the creative and impactful work that the students are doing.”
The community engagement of the ESO is symbolic of the larger involvement and research of the HPA Department with helping individuals lead healthier lives.