Always looking for opportunities to offer students a way to practice their new skills into real-life settings to broaden their experience and increase their comfort in unfamiliar situations, Judi LaBranche, a lecturer in Kinesiology, recently took eight juniors and seniors majors to the Hampshire County Jail in Northampton to participate in the correctional facility’s health fair. The health and fitness specialist supervised students as they carried out health testing for about 80 minimum- and medium-security inmates during the three-hour event.
“It was an excellent learning opportunity not only for our students but for the inmates, who were a variety of ages, ethnicities and education levels,” LaBranche says. “Our students took blood pressures, measured body composition and did flexibility assessments, and then had to explain what these measures mean to each individual. They discussed how each person could improve their readings and their overall health and fitness, matching the information to the individual. They fielded a lot of questions and got to talk about exercise decisions, diet and other issues. It was very valuable all around.”
She adds, “We had lines at our table. We were one of the more popular booths at the fair. It was a positive experience for our students, and I believe Sheriff Garvey was pleased with the outcome, as well. We’re looking into doing more work with inmates on a regular basis using their existing training equipment. It’s a way to teach the benefits of stress management and positive life style, to help people with mental health and life skills.”