Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 1, 2014

SOW members hop aboard for 'Passport to Health'

By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — Thursday night at the Purdue Extension office, 43 Decatur County women left the wintry cold and snow behind and boarded their imaginations for a Spirit of Women (SOW)-sponsored trip to Spain.

After a brief meet-and-greet, the event kicked off with a presentation on diabetes by Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) dietician and certified diabetes educator Alexis Laska. Laska’s PowerPoint presentation hit all the basics regarding diabetes and offered a limited amount of more-in-depth information, with Laska taking questions afterward.

The key to successfully dealing with diabetes, Laska told the group, and to avoiding it, is to educate oneself. What is diabetes? she posed. What is pre-diabetes? Who is at risk? Should you be tested? Can diabetes be managed? What can you do to delay or prevent diabetes and its complications?

The remainder of the presentation focused on these questions, with Laska covering each point-by-point and striving to provide answers. Afterward, she took a number of questions from the audience, before ceding the floor to North Decatur High School Spanish teacher Jenny Robbins.

Robbins served as a kind of tour guide for Thursday’s imaginary trip to Spain, bringing along five student assistants to help attendees navigate their way around four Spanish cities.

DCMH SOW Coordinator Annie Wilkison told the Daily News that Thursday’s “Passport to Health” event was part of a series of such imaginary trips that will be held once a quarter in the year ahead.

When asked if there was some connection Spain and diabetes, Wilkison answered, “No, there’s no connection between Spain and diabetes. The idea behind these events – behind every event the SOW holds – is to provide women with valuable information about their health and the health of their families in a fun environment.”

According to Wilkison, studies consistently indicate that women make the majority of healthcare-related decisions in their households, making education vital to both SOW members and to their families.

If fun was the goal Thursday, Wilkison and SOW assistant coordinator Suzanne Miller certainly succeeded. Four separate tables were arranged around the Extension Office meeting room, with the five NDHS students operating them. Each station represented a Spanish City.

NDHS senior Lauren Kinker provided information at her table focused on Seville, Spain, while senior Matthew Bailey provided a virtual tour of Toledo, with senior Erin Hoeing concentrating on Barcelona. NDHS juniors Emily Kissel and Hannah Andrews provided attendees to their table with information about Spain’s capital, Madrid.

In addition to maps and general information about each city (climate, size, population, top industries, language, culture, etc.), attendees also sampled a traditional, student-prepared Spanish appetizer – or Tapas – at three of the tables, with Bailey providing a homemade, non-alcoholic sangria.

Each of Thursday’s attendees also received a ‘passport,’ in which each student signed the name of their respective city. SOW members will have those passports on hand for each successive Passport to Health excursion, having them signed at each, making for an imaginary round-the-world chronicle.

Robbins told the Daily News that the participating senior students from Thursday night joined the event as part of a class project. “They’ll be giving these same presentations in class,” she explained, “but they’ll be required to present them in Spanish.”

“My juniors,” she continued, “stepped up and volunteered to participate in tonight’s presentation for two of my seniors who had scheduling conflicts. They’re doing it because they love Spanish.”

For their part, students were enthusiastic about interacting with SOW attendees and talking about their respective cities.

Kinker and Hoeing told the Daily News they intend to study nursing upon graduation. Both agreed that being fluent in Spanish would provide significant advantage in the field. With more Spanish speakers coming into the American healthcare system every day, the need to effectively communicate with them one-on-one could prove critical to providing efficient, successful care.

Kissel and Andrews plan to pursue careers in marine biology and law enforcement, respectively. They, too, agreed that becoming fluent in Spanish would provide significant advantages in their respective fields.

Kissel, in fact, plans to learn additional languages in college, while Andrews has set her sights on ultimately becoming an FBI field agent. Knowing Spanish, she said, would provide her with a great deal of flexibility regarding where she can work.

The Decatur County Spirit of Women’s next major event will be its annual Day of Dance Celebration from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Feb. 22, at the Decatur County Family YMCA. For more information on this or any other SOW event or to inquire about joining, call 663-1325.

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011; robert.cox@greensburgdailynews.com