Health Fair – Wellness Activities and Ideas
Activity-oriented health fairs – wellness fairs inspire more learning than a passive look-and-see health fair – wellness fair. Topic choices are limitless. Your health fair – wellness fair planning committee can help choose topics.
Ask participant agencies to come prepared to provide a hands-on teaching activity in their booth. These booths should provide something to do that will teach as least one important point about their subject. Here are some activity-oriented, hands-on ideas for your health fair – wellness fair.
Plan a County Extension Booth
This booth can offer information on various Extension programs and provide sign-up sheets for Extension activities, such as letter series and workshops. This would be a good place to have participants to sign in and register for door prizes.
Keep participants’ names from these door prize registrations for your mailing lists, too. Other ideas include having a fact sheet noting Extension accomplishments in your county. Have a sheet noting upcoming programs you will be offering.
Booths, Exhibits and Demonstrations
The following are suggestions for hands-on booths you can put together or solicit others to provide during your health fair.
Key to Suggested Target Audiences:
- Children: C
- Teen Parents: TP
- Adolescents (youth): Y
- Adult Parents: AP
- Teenagers: T
- Grandparents: GP
- Adults: A
- All Audiences: ALL
- Older Adults: O
Contact the AARP (American Association for Retired Persons) for information on older adult health as well as benefits available to seniors country-wide.
Arthritis Education (A,O)
Contact the Arthritis Foundation or materials on arthritis and how to care for it.
Back Health (ALL)
Ask your local chiropractor to show a display of the backbone and discuss the importance of posture and having a healthy back. Let the care provider know he or she can advertise the practice through this booth by giving out free notepads, pencils, etc. with the business information printed on them.
CPR and First Aid (ALL)
Ask your local EMS (Emergency Medical Services), EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), or paramedic to demonstrate CPR, first aid techniques, and give a tour of an ambulance.
Dental Care (ALL)
Ask your local dentist to provide an exhibit or booth on dental care. Ask if toothbrushes, dental floss, etc. could be given away free of charge at the booth and suggest they should consider incorporating an educational aspect, like teaching people flossing techniques. Let the dental care provider know he or she can advertise the practice through this booth.
Disability Awareness (C, Y, T)
Have a booth with stations to help kids understand how people have to adapt when they become disabled or unable to perform daily tasks due to age-related ailments. Try having participants put cotton balls in their ears and then listen to instructions at each station throughout the booth.
Stations could include putting plastic bags tightly over the hands and securing with rubber bands (e.g., arthritic hands), then have participants try to pick up objects; or put socks on their hands and have them try to pick up a dime. Have participants try to pull a sticker off their back without raising their arms above their chests (e.g., loss of flexibility).
Have participants put on non-prescription glasses covered with petroleum jelly and try to read a label on a pill or cough medicine bottle (e.g., blurred vision). For those participants with glasses, you can place plastic wrap over their glasses for a similar effect. Use a wheelchair to race around cones or have a race on crutches. Have participants try to read, seeing what a Dyslexic individual sees.
Hand-washing (C, Y, TP, AP, GP)
Have a demonstration booth on hand-washing. Put a small amount of glitter on participants’ hands. Let one participant wash their hands in a bowl with soap and one without soap. Show how soap gets rid of the glitter (germs) better than water alone (be sure to have pitchers of fresh water available). Or, put glitter in your hand, shake the hands of participants, and show them how the glitter was transferred. Explain how germs are transferred in this way. (This activity could also be done as a short program, rather than a booth, during your health fair.)
You can also call the American Cleaning Institute at (202) 347-2900, or go to their website to order the following:
- Home Safe Home for Your Explorer – poster illustrating potential dangers and how to prevent accidents. For persons responsible for the care of young children. Free.
- Handwashing Activity and Coloring Sheets – colorful seasonal reminders for when to wash hands with a coloring or activity page on the back. Handwashing posters and brochures are also available. Free.
- Handwashing Bookmarks – Reminds adults and children when to wash hands and how. Available in English and Spanish.
You can also call the Glo Germ Company at 800-842-6622 and order their materials which include a light and liquid to show if hands were washed properly. Charges vary depending on which kit is selected.
Home Health Center (A, O)
Make a display of the health care medicines, supplies, and information to have on hand in the home, including self-care tools (e.g., thermometer, humidifier, cold pack, etc.), over-the-counter products (e.g., cough expectorant, cough suppressant, anti-diarrhea, hydrocortisone cream etc.), and information such as family medical records and self-care resources. Local retailers might wish to donate some of these things as door prizes.
Mental Health (T, A, O)
Contact your local mental health facility; some have stress monitors and computer programs for biofeedback, which they may be willing to provide during your health fair.
Use the following exhibits to talk about proper diet, cutting down of fat, and reading labels:
- Where’s the Fat (available at district Extension offices and Extension Educational Resource Library)
- Food Guide Pyramid (available at district Extension offices and Extension Educational Resource Library)
- Lose the Fat with Small Changes (available at district Extension offices) (Spanish and English versions)
- Low Fat Express Curricula (has visuals that can be used, such as tubes of fat)
Occupant Protection (ALL)
Have a booth with exhibits on passenger safety. These could include the following exhibits:
- Child Safety Seat (parents, grandparents, caregivers)
- Pick-Ups ‘N Kids (parents, grandparents, caregivers)
- It’s Your Choice (adults)
- Beat the Odds (teens)
- Safe & Sober (teens, adults)
- You Booze, You Cruise, You Lose (teens, adults)
- Speed Interactive Board (teens, adults)
You may also request the Roll Over Convincer to demonstrate what happens to adults and children when a vehicle rolls and seat belts are unattached or improperly fastened. This should be requested 4 to 6 months in advance.
Poisonous Snakes (ALL)
Contact the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife to show a snake display and explain how to know which snakes are poisonous and most likely to exist in your area.
Poison Prevention (ALL)
Have a booth to teach participants to beware of “look a likes.” Many items look similar and can be mistaken for one another. For example, children often mistake medicine for candy or liquid cleaners for beverages. Make a poster with different pills and candies. Have flaps to conceal what each item is called. See if participants can discriminate between the candy and medicine.
In the bathroom, many adults and older adults mistake one product for another due to rushing or vision problems. Try placing masking tape over the labels on toothpaste tubes, arthritis/muscle cream, and hemorrhoid cream; or eye drops, nasal spray, and ear drops. See if participants can tell the difference. Contact your area Poison Control Center for displays and other information that may be available.
Skin Cancer Prevention (ALL)
Present the Skin Cancer Exhibit available in Spanish and English (available at district Extension offices, urban county Extension offices, and Extension Educational Resource Library). Talk about the importance of applying sunscreen, using appropriate SPF (sun protection factor), and wearing the right clothing outside.
Tobacco Use Prevention
There are a multitude of resources you can use to present a booth on preventing the use of tobacco, including:
- (C, Y, T) – Smoking and Youth exhibit: Spanish and English (1995) (available at district Extension offices, urban county Extension offices, Extension Educational Resource Library, and American Cancer Society)
- (TP, AP) – Smokeless Tobacco exhibit: With Mr. Dip Lip Model/Bilingual (available at district Extension offices, urban county Extension offices, and Extension Educational Resource Library)
- (ALL) – Medical Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco Display and carrying case. This very graphic display delivers an amazing series of images that show how “smokeless” is the most harmful nicotine induction vehicle. It defines what smokeless tobacco is, and then tells how it is used. It also demonstrates some oral health problems and displays additional dangers of smokeless tobacco (available at district Extension offices).
- (ALL) – Smoking Effects and Hazards Display with carrying case. This display shows why tobacco is America’s #1 health problem. It helps viewers understand the initial and long-term effects of nicotine and smoke by-products on the human body (available at district Extension offices).
- (ALL) – Death of a Lung. The first model in this display shows regular contours and healthy color of the normal, non-smoker’s lung tissue. The second model depicts the soft, irregular shape and blackened color of tissue from an emphysematous lung, with collapsing air sacs within the lung wall like the ones that will eventually smother the smoker. In the third model, cancer of the lung appears as a large, whitish-gray mass (available at district Extension offices).
- (ALL) – Second-Hand Smoke Demo. This model collects the tars in second-hand smoke from a cigarette smoked in an enclosed chamber. The residue collected on a filter measurably demonstrates how much cancerous smoke a nonsmoker’s lungs absorb from someone else’s cigarette (available at district Extension offices). Usually, this model should not be taken into schools or other governmental buildings because tobacco cannot be brought into these sites or because smoke alarms could be activated. Check your facility before using.
Short Programs and Activities
Alternative Remedies (A, O)
Present a program on alternative medicine, such as vitamins, herbs, phytochemicals, homeopathic remedies, etc. Refer to Dietary Supplements: Health or Hoax? for information on these topics. Be sure to present a section on avoiding health fraud and quackery; provide a handout on how to avoid being a victim of fraud.
Bicycle Rodeo (C, Y, T)
Hold a bicycle rodeo. Provide children, adolescents, and teens with an educational program about bicycle safety. Have each participant go through a safety course where they must use appropriate hand signals, etc. Then have each participant ride through an (age-level appropriate) obstacle course. Have door prizes and giveaways for the best, safest riders. Requires approved bicycle helmets.
Breast Self Exams (T, A, O)
Present a program that allows participants to see and feel breast lumps so they can identify one in their own breast self exam and teach others how to identify breast lumps. There are many resources available that could be used in your presentation, including the following:
- (T, A) – Breast Cancer Exhibit with breast model. Bilingual (1995) (available at district Extension offices, urban county Extension offices, American Cancer Society, and Extension Educational Resource Library).
- (T, A) – Multi-type breast models. An average breast with no lumps, an average breast with lumps, a dense-tissue breast with no lumps, and a fibrocystic breast with lumps are mounted on a piece of heavy plastic for women to feel the difference in the breasts for themselves (available at district Extension offices and Extension Educational Resource Library).
- (T, A) – Breast Lump Size Display (12″x9″). Shows women the difference early breast cancer detection makes. Uses everyday objects such as a push-pin, a pencil eraser, a dime, a button, and a ping pong ball to illustrate the size of breast lumps found by varying levels of detection practices (available at district Extension offices and Extension Educational Resource Library).
Child Health (TP, AP, GP)
Present a short program on child health issues, such as:
- How to care for a child with fever
- Preventing and treating colds and flu
- Dealing with bed-wetting
- Preventing ear infections and swimmer’s ear
Drug Use Prevention (C, Y, T, TP, AP, GP)
Contact MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) at (800) GET-MADD for handouts and other resource information.
Fire Prevention and Safety (C, Y, TP, AP)
Contact your local fire department to provide a safety education program. Some fire departments will even have an actual house in which children can practice safety tips.
Health Care/Self Care (A, O)
Present a program on managing your health care. Here are some ideas:
- How to select a doctor or clinic.
- How to participate in making decisions with your health care professional.
- Choosing the right kind of health care coverage (e.g., HMO, Preferred Provider, etc.).
- Cutting health care costs – being a wise consumer of medical care.
Physical Activity (ALL)
Have a local aerobics, fitness, or karate expert provide a free, participatory activity, such as beginning step aerobics, or the advantages of strength training, etc. Try contacting your local YMCA for this and other related programs. Or call the YMCA at (800) 872-9622 to gain information.
Ask an exercise physiologist, sports trainer, or physical therapist to speak on how to buy appropriate walking shoes or exercise equipment, what sports drinks are best or how to make your own sports drinks, learning to find your target heart rate, safely exercising in heat and cold extremes, or how to start a walking club.
Prenatal Care (TP, AP)
Ask a dietitian from your local hospital to speak about prenatal nutrition.
Women’s Health (A, O)
Contact a local health provider to present a program on managing menopause, including information on estrogen replacement therapy.
Stress Management (A, Y*, T*, O*)
Try the Ping Pong Ball Balance Activity (adapted from Practical Parent Educators Curriculum). For this activity, you will need a plastic dish pan (filled 1/2 full with lukewarm water), a small hand towel, and 20 ping pong balls labeled as follows: promotion, relocation, parenthood, divorce, lay off, death, injury, illness, retirement, financial change, occupation change, law violation, begin or end of school, sex difficulties, marriage, pregnancy, mortgage over $50,000, alcohol, drugs, depression.
Ask a participant to assist in the demonstration. Instruct the participant that as you drop ping pong balls into the dish pan, he/she is to keep the balls under the surface of the water with his/her hands (both hands may be used).
Read each ping pong ball as you drop it into the water. Explain to the group that struggling to keep the balls under the water is like trying to hold down all of the stressors with no resolution. We are able to keep some control over a few stressors, but as they accumulate and begin to build, it often becomes difficult to contain and control them.
As balls are being dropped into the water, encourage the volunteer to share any feelings or frustrations he/she might be experiencing in trying to keep the balls down. Allow the volunteer to dry his/her hands and sit down.
Pull a few of the balls out and read the labels. Ask for suggestions on how to manage or prevent such stressors. Provide a handout with some suggestions
*This activity would be appropriate for adolescents/teens, and older adults; just change the stressors on the ping pong balls to make them appropriate to your audience.
Tobacco Use Prevention (ALL)
Try these activities with health fair participants:
Grasping for Air
Almost all cases of emphysema are due to cigarette smoking. The Gasping for Air activity will help participants to understand what it feels like to have emphysema.
Materials: one wrapped straw for each participant.
Participation: Give each participant a straw, and ask them to remove the wrapping. Have each participant place the straw in his/her mouth. Ask each participant to pinch his/her nostrils closed and breathe only through the straw in the mouth.
Another version of this is to have participants run in place for one minute. Then place straw in the mouth and breathe for one minute through the straw only. Children and teens like this version.
Caution: Explain that if any difficulty exists with breathing, they can stop the activity at any time.
Next: Participants are to breathe through the straw for one minute. After about 30 seconds, and continuing to breathe only through the straw, have participants look around at each other. (This should cause some laughing while still attempting to breathe through the straw.)
Experience: After the minute is up, ask participants to describe what is was like to breathe through the straw. (They will tell you it was difficult to breathe.) Explain that this is what is feels like to breathe when a person has emphysema.
Ask them if it was harder to breathe through the straw when they started laughing. Ask them to consider how difficult it might be to go up a flight of stairs (or do other common activities) if they had to breathe like this.
You could also have two sponges to demonstrate why someone with emphysema has such a hard time breathing. One sponge should be moist and the other hard. The moist sponge is like a healthy lung filled with air sacs. The dry sponge is like the lung of someone with emphysema.
A healthy lung (moist sponge) can easily bring oxygen into the air sacs (alveoli) and force carbon dioxide out of the air sacs. A lung with emphysema (hard sponge) cannot do this; trapped carbon dioxide stays in the lungs, making the person feel like they are starved for air.
This activity demonstrates what happens to non-smokers in a room with a smoker.
Materials: Order the Smokey Room from your district Extension office. This is kept with other materials provided by the Texas Cancer Council.
Demonstration: Have the man in the Smokey Room smoke a cigarette after inserting the filter – see directions that come with the model. It is best to do this before starting the demonstration because it could set off smoke alarms, and it smells bad. Another option is to have the demonstration set up outside. Schools will not permit tobacco on school grounds – demonstrate using filter and show cloudy walls of box.
Participation: Show participants what color the filter paper is before the man smokes the cigarette. Ask them to guess what color the filter will be after the man smokes the cigarette. Ask them what makes the filter change to a brown color. Hint: see the Jar of Tar activity below to demonstrate the tar is what gets into the filter as well as the lungs of the smoker and non-smokers in the room.
Discussion: This is what happens when someone smokes in an enclosed area, such as a house, office, or car. Everyone in the enclosed area smokes with the smoker. Second-hand smoke is a leading cause of ear infections in children. Even being around smokers makes asthma worse. People living with smokers are also at increased risk for heart disease, lung cancer, colds, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Smoke in the Air
This activity only takes 5 minutes and is a good way to help people understand the implications of second-hand smoke.
Materials: spray bottle filled with water; tar-stained handkerchief.
Demonstration: Spray water from the spray bottle into the air as you move around the room.
Participation: Ask participants how they would react if they thought you were spraying perfume? A deadly poison? A virus? Tobacco smoke?
Demonstration: Show participants the handkerchief through which a smoker has exhaled tobacco smoke (be sure to have a smoker do this ahead of time).
Explanation: Explain that the tar in the tobacco smoke made the stains. The smoke in the handkerchief had already been in the lungs of the smoker. Ask what this tells the non-smoker about exhaled smoke from smokers? (It is harmful to everyone.)
Explain that second-hand smoke is the smoke that’s in the air when tobacco is being smoked. Nicotine is also present in the second-hand smoke. Tar, nicotine, and other harmful substances in tobacco smoke pose a health threat to nearby non-smokers (adults, children, even family pets are affected).
Jar of Tar
This activity demonstrates how much tar goes into the lungs of a smoker in one year.
Materials: Clear jar with a lid. One cup of molasses poured into the jar.
Demonstration: Hold the jar with the 1 cup of molasses.
Participation: Ask participants how long would it take for a 1 pack a day smoker to get this much tar in their lungs. Ask participants what tar has to do with smokers’ cough.
Explanation: This is how much tar enters the lungs of a 1 pack a day smoker in one year. Tar contains the substances that cause damage to lungs resulting in problems like emphysema and lung cancer. Tars also cause damage to the hair cells or cilia in the respiratory tract, causing the hairs to be flat instead of standing up and sending mucus back up the tract. Mucus collects, and the smoker has to cough to get the mucus out. This is what causes the smokers’ cough. As shown in the Smokey Room demonstration above, tars get into the air, and people around the smoker breathe them too.
Often it can be difficult to organize school groups or other youth groups for participation in a health fair. Some of the biggest challenges are getting the youth to actively inquire about the booths and keeping all the youth from going booth-to-booth as a large group. A good way to overcome these challenges is to have a health fair scavenger hunt. Here’s how it works:
- Assign participants to groups of 4 to 6 individuals. If you have concerns about the youth sticking together or if you have younger children, be sure to have a sponsor or older participant to go with each group.
- Make a list of questions that can only be answered at specific booths. You may tell the participants which booths they can find the answers at, or let participants find out for themselves. Put the same questions in a different order for each group. This staggered order should help you avoid groups gathering at one booth at the same time.
- Have a prize for the group who gets all the correct answers, has the best (most detailed) answers, or finishes the hunt first. Or, make this hunt a graded assignment.
Scavenger Hunt Questions
Of course, not all health fairs will have the same booths, exhibits, and demonstrations, but here are some sample questions you might ask on your Scavenger Hunt Questionnaire.
- What is the universally recognized symbol for poison? (Skull and cross bones)
- Does it matter when you apply sunscreen? (Yes, it should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.)
- What are two signs of severe depression? (Change in sleep pattern, appetite changes, or withdrawal from family and friends)
- What is a myocardial infarction? (Heart attack)
- Hot water heaters should be set no higher than _______ °F to prevent scald burns. (120)
- How often should smoke detector batteries be checked to be sure they’re working? (Monthly)
- What is the correct method to contact emergency services? (Call 911)
- Good _______ skills can help work out family problems. (Communication)
- If you’re in the sun, you should wear a _______. (Hat)
- Wear a _______ every time you ride your bicycle. (Helmet)
- What is Zoonosis? (The study of diseases communicable from lower animals to man under natural conditions, e.g., rabies, Lyme disease, etc.)
- List three animals that can carry the rabies disease. (Squirrels, skunks, dogs)
- Name one way to protect your family from fires in the home. (Install smoke detectors and check batteries monthly, or have at least two planned escape routes)
- True or False? Bicyclists should always yield the right of way to vehicles and pedestrians – let them go first. (True)
- The correct method of controlling major bleeding is: (circle one)
- Lift injured area above heart level
- Apply a band-aid
- Apply direct pressure (Answer: C)
- Why should I take my child to the doctor when he/she does not appear sick? (To diagnose any medical problems that could exist before they become severe, or for immunizations)
- Why should I take my child to the dentist when he/she does not appear to have a dental problem? (To diagnose any dental problems that could exist before they become severe)
- What are the long term dangers of using inhalants? (Weight loss, fatigue, salt imbalance, permanent nerve damage)
- Why is posture important? (Proper posture takes strain off of joints)
- Which is the largest food group in the Food Guide Pyramid? (Breads and cereals)
- How much counts as one serving from the meat, fish, and poultry group? (2 to 3 oz., about the size of a deck of cards)
- What is high blood pressure? (When the heart is straining to pump blood and creates pressure in the vessels)
- Can high blood pressure be cured? (No)
- What is diabetes? (A condition that interferes with the way the body uses food for energy)
- What are some ways to control diabetes? (Diet, exercise, education, and medications)
- In which booth did you learn the best ideas?
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