Purdue students put on health fair for Spanish speaking community

March 29, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University's Spanish service-learning class, Ayuda y Aprende or Help and Learn, is hosting its second health fair on April 9 at the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy.

The student-led, free fair will provide health information to LARA students and the Spanish speaking community. LARA is located at 1100 Elizabeth St. in Lafayette. The fair will include booths on heart health, dental care, prenatal care, blood pressure screenings, mental health and substance abuse. There will be two public sessions, with the first from 9-11 a.m. and the second from 6-8 p.m. 

The Ayuda y Aprende students want to reach out to the Spanish speakers for whom they often serve as interpreters or conversational practice partners at LARA. Many Spanish speakers face a gap in health care knowledge.

"Many immigrants don't have proper access to the health care community, and the Purdue students who were working with these ESL students saw that need first hand," said Julie Harrell, the service-learning coordinator in the School of Language and Cultures. "This fair allows those non-native English speakers to simply walk down the hall and get free, practical help." 

The class has invited all United Way organizations along with several Purdue organizations to set up booths at the fair. One of those groups is Rho Chi, an honors society composed of Purdue pharmacy students, which will hold free blood pressure screenings and a "brown bag medication review." 

At the review, health fair attendees will fill out a form listing their medications, supplements and vitamins. Society members will review them, assess their therapy and provide suggestions on how that therapy can be optimized. 

"It's a very simple and effective way to answer the patient's questions, verify what they are taking, identify drug interactions or medication errors and help them to take their medications correctly," said Jacob Mattox, a Rho Chi member and former Ayuda Y Aprende student. "Many times patients may be experiencing a troublesome side effect due to improper administration of the medication, drug interactions or an inappropriate dosage. Sometimes, these are simple fixes that we can identify."

Ayuda y Aprende allows students in 300 level Spanish courses and above to practice their language skills in real-world situations. Students can visit Klondike Middle School, LARA and McCutcheon High School to work on English with native Spanish speakers, in exchange for practical Spanish conversation. 

This spring is pharmacy student Christine Kane's fourth semester in the service-learning program. The fair is an opportunity for her to practice professional skills as well as pursue personal interests. Kane and a classmate created a medicinal guidebook with English and Spanish translations that she says the Spanish speakers at LARA are excited about.

Beyond career development, Kane looks at the class as a chance to give back to the community.  

"It is important to have students interacting in the community to break the college stereotype many people hold," Kane said. "This is our future and if students begin to give back earlier, it makes them more aware of the impacts an individual can have if they try."

Writer: Morgan Stephens, 765-490-4855, MorganLStephens@gmail.com

Sources: Julie Harrell, 765-494-3877, harrellj@purdue.edu

Christine Kane, kane4@purdue.edu

Jacob Mattox, jlmattox@purdue.edu

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