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The College of Staten Island mobilized its staff, students, faculty, and its President in support of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Health and Wellness Expo, which took place yesterday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Under the theme, “Plan to Be Healthy,” the Expo featured classes and seminars on healthy eating, the latest exercise regimens, men’s and women’s health issues, living fully with disabilities, and other opportunities for increasing one’s well-being and health. The event was sponsored by Councilman James Oddo and the Northfield Bank Foundation, and hosted, in part, by CSI.

President Morales (back row, center, smiling) poses with CSI student Expo attendees yesterday.

President Morales (back row, center, smiling) poses with CSI student Expo attendees yesterday.

CSI President Dr. Tomás Morales, who served as Expo Ambassador, underscored the crucial importance of the event and the College’s participation in it. “Health care and wellness are some of the major challenges on Staten Island. The Commissioner of Health for New York City this morning gave us a very startling statistic. While Staten Island has the highest per capita income, we also have the highest mortality rate, the highest rate of diabetes, the highest rate of smoking of any borough in New York City. Given that the College of Staten Island is the only public institution on Staten Island, we serve the public good, and so to be involved, myself as Ambassador, and of course our Nursing and Physical Therapy departments and our students and faculty, it really demonstrates that we are indeed committed to health and wellness here on Staten Island.”

Other College representatives included the Office of Recruitment and Admissions and the Alumni Association, who staffed tables at the Expo, as well as CSI Health and Wellness Services and the Nursing and Physical Therapy departments, who provided health screenings and co-hosted (with Wagner College and St. John’s University) a seminar entitled “College Health: Health for a Lifetime.” The two academic departments also hosted the “Finding Balance in Your Life” seminar, an interactive approach to helping seniors avoid life-threatening falls.

Commenting on the latter seminar, Dr. Jeffrey Rothman, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, noted that “The second leading cause of death in people over the age of 65 is falls. So what we’re trying to do today, between [the] Physical Therapy and Nursing [departments] is to present some strategies and some things for people to do to maintain their fitness level so that their balance and coordination are improved or are not in a situation that will allow them to fall and suffer an injury.”

Students from CSI and other colleges were well-represented at the Expo and some of them were appreciative of the efforts to address college-age wellness issues, such as the “College Health” seminar.

Gloria Lopez, a senior Nursing major, said, “This was a great interactive fair for all college students and for Staten Island [residents]. I think that it touched a lot of topics that college students need to be exposed to.”

Jessica Ng, a senior Psychology major, also valued what she learned at the event. “I think the Expo today is a great and interactive way to promote wellness throughout the entire borough.”

Beyond the informative aspects of the Expo, Alexis Garcia, a junior Psychology major, enjoyed the social dimension of the event. “You make a lot of connections, you network, and interact with other college students and figure out how to get the whole community together [regarding health issues].

Other CSI representatives agreed that the Expo was a success, as it brought the community together to address important health issues.

Dr. Mary O’Donnell, Chair of the Department of Nursing, commented, “Health is the major concern of all of nursing, and health and wellness are among our target goals…I think that anything that exposes the public to healthy lifestyles is going to be a plus for all of us.”

Maureen Becker, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, drew attention to CSI’s role in the community. “I think the College has a great influence on Staten Island because of the number of students [who attend CSI] and that so many of our students are going into the health care profession. So if we all can be role models, we can help our patients and the community more.”

Linda Conte, Director of the CSI Health and Wellness Services, focused on the importance of student health as a key ingredient to success. “College students are so much a part of the culture on Staten Island and if we expect our students to succeed, there is no way that they’re going to do that without attending to their health and wellness. Health and wellness is intrinsic to anything anyone does. So, if they want to do anything well, they need to be in a good place physically, as well as emotionally.”

Finally, Donna Garambone, Alumni Affairs Coordinator, emphasized the social connections that the Expo fostered, especially among alumni. “The CSI Alumni Association needs to connect with our alumni. Over half of our alumni live locally on Staten Island and many of them are in the health care professions.”

Connections were certainly made at the Expo, as attendees had the opportunity to hear celebrity guests Lisa Oz and Joseph T. Bonanno, who shared their knowledge on healthy living. Other aspects of the Expo included demonstrations and classes taught by fitness experts from the JCC, YMCA, and other organizations; health screenings for glaucoma, hearing, and brain tumors, and more; onsite mammograms; raffles; free massage therapy; a blood drive; more than 100 vendor tables; healthcare counseling; and even a farmers’ market.