Nursing students host Salvation Army Health Fair

April 4, 2011

Bradley University nursing students organized and hosted the Second Annual March Madness Health Fair at the Salvation Army Family Service Center in Peoria. The students served over 70 underprivileged community members and provided health screenings, wellness advice, and health-related gifts such as fruit and toothbrushes.

Professor Janet Jackson attended the event and Professor Kelly Schwend served as the group’s facilitator, but Schwend emphasized that the students were responsible for the fair from the beginning, from the first stages of planning through the event itself.

“I was their cheerleader,” she said. “I could not have had better students for this.”

Bradley nursing professors and students have worked with the Salvation Army often in previous years, but this was the first time Bradley students had organized this event. The group used their own experiences and those of other students and professors to determine the community’s most urgent needs.

With the help of volunteers from the University of Illinois and the Illinois Valley Mental Health Association, they set up several stations to provide information and services for topics like nutrition, heart health, and mental illness screening. In addition to the on-site screenings, the students helped people make follow-up appointments when continuing care was necessary.

“These are the little steps that make the big difference,” said senior Hilary Nave.

For some students, the most rewarding parts of the day came from the touching personal stories. Senior Britanie Pillsbury was struck by how the simple things many take for granted can be out of reach for the disadvantaged.

“I was taking blood pressure and one man couldn’t wait to tell me he had received a toothbrush,” she said. “He hadn’t been able to brush his teeth in two months.”

Others were struck by Bradley’s exceptional reputation in the community.

“You step in there in that Bradley nursing outfit and people have a different view of you,” said Nave. “They know the Bradley uniform means care and concern.”