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SHU Partners with The Watermark to Offer Free Community Health Fair

Exercise science students share wellness advice with seniors

Students in Sacred Heart University’s exercise and aging course helped plan and coordinate a recent health fair at The Watermark at 3030 Park retirement center in Bridgeport.

About 60 people from 3030 Park and the surrounding community attended the second annual health fair. The free event featured 20 stations that featured massage therapy, strength and fitness testing, dietary information and other health-related vendors.

“Our students conducted themselves in a professional and responsible manner, and served as very good ambassadors to both our profession and to our university,” said Peter Ronai, clinical associate professor of exercise science at SHU. “This type of outreach helps each student put a face to the people—they are not just examples in a text book; they are actual people in the community. Our students are very motivated to continue to go out there and help improve people’s quality of life, and this helps to reaffirm all that.”

All 30 students registered in the exercise and aging course participated in the fair. Twenty worked on-site, and the entire class supported the effort by creating educational and marketing materials, and by designing and testing a battery of fitness and performance tests for fair visitors. Senior exercise science majors Stephanie Dossopoulos and Jackie Rizzitelli led the team, serving as coordinators and student liaisons with Watermark’s fitness director, Cindy McGuire, who is also an adjunct professor in SHU’s exercise science program.

Rizzitelli said she appreciated the opportunity to work with members of the Watermark community, from service and education standpoints.

“We each did independent research on our topics and were very excited to have the residents come to our stations,” she said. “They enjoyed learning about the testing batteries and were eager to hear their results.

“Overall, Professor Ronai’s class has given us the tools to be able to work safely with the geriatric population,” Rizzitelli continued, “and with the service learning component of the class, we were able to have a valuable first-hand experience with the residents.”

Sacred Heart’s service learning philosophy is a teaching strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the education experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen the community. “One of the big components of our Catholic identity is providing compassionate service to anyone in need and respecting the individual and the sanctity of human beings, regardless of race, age and faith,” Ronai explained. “Service learning teaches that in a way that no other experience can.”

The Watermark at 3030 Park is a continuing-care retirement community on a 14-acre campus not far from SHU. It operates on a philosophy of independent living and offers residents a new, state-of-the-art health center, private assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing suites.

To view additional photos from the health fair, click here.