By Wendy Sarubbi | January 23, 2014 12:15 pm

Students at the UCF College of Medicine had an opportunity to kick off a healthy 2014 at the first annual Healthy Knights expo January 17.

The expo allowed students to visit a variety of booths on campus services and get valuable information on wellness topics  from healthy snacking to sufficient sleep.  Many of these services are popular on UCF’s main campus but are lesser-known at the College of Medicine campus in Lake Nona. The expo is the first step in a series of events designed to promote a healthier lifestyle at the medical school.

Student Academic Support Services Coordinator Latisha McCray organized this expo in an effort to bring main campus services to the College of Medicine. “I really want the students to become more connected the UCF community, and the services that they are eligible for,” she said.  “I want them to be healthier,  less stressed, and develop more healthy habits.”

The college’s efforts are in accordance with UCF’s Healthy Knights 2020 initiative, designed  to achieve a healthier, safer UCF campus community by 2020. Medical students learned a variety of ways to stay healthy as they train to care for patients. A Sports & Recreation booth provided  information on competitive athletic leagues, and exercise classes offered on the College of Medicine campus. A “Wheel of Fortune” game informed them about  proper sleeping habits. A “Mission Nutrition” booth, operated by medical students, provided guidance on healthy snacks for those too busy to cook.  “We’re here to promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle for students,” second-year student, and Mission Nutrition member Meshal Soni said. “We also want students to go out into the community and teach people about eating right and making healthy life choices.”

Mission Nutrition members encouraged their peers to participate in a 24-hour food challenge and record everything they ate for an entire day. Based on that record, students determined what is missing from their diet and the group offered “med school- friendly” recipes to address food groups that most students are lacking.

Another booth dispelled myths about alcohol.  Students were challenged to pour one drink, using alcohol bottles filled with water. Many learned they were “over-pouring” and actually  consuming two or more alcoholic drinks per serving.  “Our main goal is to do outreach,” said UCF Wellness and Health Promotion Services Peer Advocate Alexander Pompee. “We want to get to as many students as possible, and make sure that those students tell their friends and family, because you never know if it could save a life.”

Students who attended the expo said the event helped them remember that in order to care for others, they must care for their own health.  “Events like this kind of bring us back to reality,” said second-year student Scott Furer. “Making sure that we’re doing the right things to keep ourselves healthy and sane, and keep our minds working the way that they should be.”

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