Public Health Week moves into weekend

Moving forward in the success of Public Health Week 2006, day five of the week-long event, is underway with “Heart of a Champion,” sponsored by the American Heart Association.

A representative from the AHA presents “Heart of a Champion” as a platform for stroke prevention techniques from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Set.

This platform is built on what is called a pledge card. Jennifer Smith, 20, a junior engineering technology student from Powder Springs, Ga., and the deputy surgeon general for the Student Government Association at Florida A&M University, is a part of the coordination effort.

“The pledge card is a way of outlining preventative methods to decrease the risk of stroke,” Smith said.

“Each participant fills out a two-part card in which he or she keeps one part and gives the other to the AHA to be registered.”

Smith said the registration cards allow people to receive “cool” information like cookbooks and recipes that encourage healthy eating and living.

A segment titled “What’s On Your Brain” is part of the “Heart of a Champion” drive because physical health is affected by mental health.

Causes of stroke include mental health issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia or feelings of guilt, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“I know what mental health is and what it encompasses,” said Victoria McCovery, 20, a sophomore health science student from Pensacola.

“I get stressed out too, but before I rush over to the Sunshine Manor, I try my own relaxation techniques to get my mind off of (the stress).”

President of Future Public Health Professionals Tony Pearson, a 23-year-old graduate student from Jacksonville, is concerned about the welfare of students who may be suffering from the pressures of balancing work and college life.

“It is important to get these mental health issues out there because these are the problems that are leading us to strokes and other heart conditions,” Pearson said.

“We have had a great turnout all week long so we are looking forward to reaching more students at ‘Heart of a Champion’ as well as ‘Seatbelt Safety’ going on this weekend.”

Mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity, according to the mental health glossary.

Experts say exercise helps reduce stress, which, in turn, lowers the risk of stroke.

In support of this research, there will be an “Asthma Walk” Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. at Lake Ella in which participants will have the opportunity to meet members of SGA, FPHP and other organizations and friends of the community.

“Buckle up Tallahassee” kicks off at noon through 3 p.m. “This event, like all the others are hugely important,” said McCovery.

“Especially with the onset of the cell phone in the last five to eight years, we need extra protection in our vehicles.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement; FAMU-PD, FSU-PD and TPD; Florida Highway Patrol; The K.A.O.S. Group Inc.; and the Department of Health will be in attendance.

Contact Stankeisha Burchell at