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Student organizes first Bradley Health Fair

Health Services Counseling Center booth at the Bradley Health Fair photo via Roy Lard

Students often need healthcare services while on campus, but many don’t know where to go or what to ask for. Fifth year family life science major Cristofer Maravilla stepped up on Sept. 20 to teach the student body about the Health Services offered at Bradley.

The Bradley Health Fair was the first of its kind, and was organized by Maravilla with help from the Health Services Department. Maravilla works for two local nonprofits – Central Illinois Friends and Goodwill Home for Veterans – and was inspired by their community outreach.

“For my internship, I’ve done a lot of health fair events through [Central Illinois] Friends, whether that’s tabling or setup,” Maravilla said. “But I realized that Bradley doesn’t do any health-related [events].”

Maravilla was inspired by events hosted at other universities, including Illinois State University, Heartland Community College and Knox College.

Maravilla reached out to Dr. Jessica Higgs, the Director of Health Services, to see what could be done to arrange a similar event at Bradley.

“So really it was just a collaboration,” Higgs said. “When he met with me and he was talking with [Central Illinois] Friends about doing STI testing on campus, and I said, ‘Well we do STI testing on campus every day at no charge to the students,’ and then we just started talking.”

After meeting, Maravilla and Higgs decided to hold an event for Health Services to showcase their on-campus services and the organizations they work with. Many students are unaware of the services available and it’s Maravilla and Higgs’ goal to spread this information.

“I talk at orientation, but they [freshmen] get a lot of information at orientation, and their parents are sitting right next to them there, too, so they maybe don’t get a chance to ask questions,” Higgs said. “Most students have never encountered healthcare without their parents, so it is a big hurdle for them to even reach out and understand how the system works.”

Peoria Grown booth at Health Fair photo via Roy Lard

Representatives from Peoria Grown, the group that hosts Market 309, attended the fair. Market 309 brings fresh fruits and vegetables to Peoria’s underserved communities in order to combat food and nutrition insecurity. They come to Bradley every Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. to sell fresh produce under $3.

“We take a lot of dietetic interns from Bradley,” Peoria Grown dietitian Candace Martell said. “To be able to expose them to Market 309 and what the work and role is of a community dietitian.”

Planned Parenthood of Illinois, an organization that provides a wide range of sexual health care, also hosted a booth. Its services include STI/STD testing, treatment and counseling. The Peoria location of Planned Parenthood was attacked in January 2023 and has since been closed for renovations, but still acts as a resource for Bradley students.

“I thought it was great that they had all those organizations there to tell students about what was happening,” senior philosophy major Katherine Moody said. “I wasn’t aware of most of them until I went to the event.”
Other booths included OSF Strive, Positive Health Solutions, Peoria Public Health and Central Illinois Friends. These services are all available to Bradley students and more information can be found by contacting Health Services.

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