Student health organization seeks to make a comeback

The Ithaca College Public and Community Health Student Association (PCHSA) is on track to become a club again after its official status expired last year.

In the 2020-2021 academic year, the official status of the organization expired because upper class members and board members graduated, and the organization no longer had the 10 active members required. Having a recognized organization allows groups to be affiliated with the college, according to the Office of Student Engagement recognition web page. Recognized organizations can advertise, use college resources, make room reservations, travel, and represent the college at conferences. The club was founded by Donette Ritchie ’14, in the spring of 2013. In 2018, the organization had a water bottle line and sent them to a community organization that promotes a healthy lifestyle in Ecuador, but even then the PCHSA would restart after years of inactivity and resume just after being recognized again.

The organization has a board of directors and has almost the required 10 students who are active members to become a club again, and the organization hopes to educate students on public health issues and help the wider community of Ithaca.

Stewart Auyash, associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education and an advisor to PCHSA, said public health is about preventing the spread of disease and injury in communities.

“That’s why we wear these masks, isn’t it?” That’s why we take vaccines, ”Auyash said. “It’s all public health. And sometimes it involves doctors, but most of the time it doesn’t.

Public health systems in the United States investigate the causes of disease, and play an important role in informing policy makers and stakeholders to coordinate health solutions according to an article written by the National Academy of Medicine. The article says health services were the first line of response when the global COVID-19 pandemic began, underscoring the importance of emergency operations and community response plans.

Sophomore William Lovejoy, vice president of PCHSA, said he heard about the organization from one of his professors and decided he wanted to help restart it. He said the board met on October 12 to discuss how it will revive the PCHSA. The board reviewed the constitution of the organization and decided on the roles of the board and members.

“I thought so [the meeting] went pretty well, we got some ideas and came up with a presentation to introduce and edit the constitution and everything. Lovejoy said. “So we’re just getting the ball rolling. “

Auyash said it’s important to try to prevent the spread of disease in communities and part of that is studying the data, but another part of public health is raising awareness through education and awareness. sensitization.

“We look at the data for statistical lives and try to prevent the spread of disease. Said Auyash. “And then the tricky part, and the part that has garnered the most attention to some extent, is getting the message across.”

Manner, style and voice when communicating to a large audience are essential to effectively informing the public, Auyash said. The Public and Community Health Students Association helps students learn to be effective communicators and leaders, Auyash said.

Freshman Mariana Garcia Fajardo, president of PCHSA, said she became interested in the field of study after the pandemic started while in high school. Garcia Fajardo said she wanted the organization to raise awareness about health issues, including, but not limited to, COVID-19.

“We want to help our community, so we thought about doing blood drives and food drives to engage our members,” Garcia Fajardo said. “We want people to know what’s going on, not just in Ithaca but also in the United States”

She said the group wanted to create a newsletter or monthly bulletin focused on public health within the academic community and the country.

“And I feel like it’s really important for all of us to know that it’s not like, just COVID,” Garcia Fajardo said. “There are a lot of things that are related to public health.

The problem, Garcia Fajardo said, is that there aren’t enough underclass students in the organization to keep it functioning when the upper class students graduate. Garcia Fajardo and Lovejoy both stressed that students of all majors are welcome to join the organization. They said they wanted to let as many students as possible known that the organization is back, and they are looking for members.

“We want to be active, and our idea is to push, especially the freshmen and sophomores, to be active so that what has happened, like the [organization] becoming inactive will not happen again, ”Garcia Fajardo said.

Lovejoy said the board wants to put up flyers and posters on campus to get more students to join us. The organization also has professors who let their students know that the PCHSA is back and who have spoken in front of the classes to spread the word. Once the group is recognized again, the PCHSA can create an official logo and launch social media pages to increase its reach.

The PCHSA does not yet have an official date or time for the next meeting, but Garcia Fajardo has said she wants to organize a food drive before the end of the semester.

“Due to the approaching holiday season, we are probably thinking of putting boxes in each of the dorms for people to drop off food for the food drive,” Garcia Fajardo said. “It’s our first idea… we probably want to get it somewhere in the community where people need it most. “

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