For Women’s Health: PRCC hosts 10th annual symposium

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

hypertension: Blood pressure checks were offered during Saturday’s symposium.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

hypertension: Blood pressure checks were offered during Saturday’s symposium.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Saturday, 500 women attended Pearl River Community College’s 10th annual Women’s Health Symposium.
Mothers, grandmothers, daughters and friends gathered at the Olivia Bender cafeteria to hear entertaining guest speakers, undergo health screenings, shop at the art walk and visit with local authors.
Vice president for PRCC’s Planning and Institutional Research and chair of the symposium steering committee Dr. Jennifer Seal said the event began with Dr. Becky Askew’s vision of educating women about their health.
“She was concerned about the reports of women’s health in South Mississippi,” Seal said. “Dr. Askew doesn’t just look at problems, she wants to see what she can do to help women lead healthier and happy lives.”
This year’s guest speakers represented voices of the past, present and future.
Representing the present was author Janie Walters, a regular event speaker, Seal said.
Walters spoke to the crowd about how to get rid of emotional problems and garbage by changing one’s attitude and perspective.
The second speaker, Dr. Robbie Melton, represented the future. She spoke about the evolution of technological devices and how they can help with personal health, education and safety.
After breakfast and presentations by Walters and Melton, attendees visited various informational booths for health screenings, including blood pressure check, a body composition analysis, a bone density scan, cholesterol screening, chronic care risk assessment, glucose levels, memory, oxygen saturation, peripheral artery disease, posture analysis, skin cancer, stress dots and vision.
Students from PRCC’s medical lab technology group, the associate degree nursing program, the wellness center and dental program also performed the scans and provided information at booths.
RN students Felicia Mitchell and Caleb Lott took attendees’ blood pressure. It was both of the students first time attending the symposium.
“It’s important, you got to watch out for hypertension and all the problems that come with it,” Mitchell said. “The symposium is great and it’s teaching women a lot about the health things they need to learn.”
Lott echoed Mitchell’s sentiments and said a lot of people don’t think about hypertension. It’s one of those things that can sneak up on you and better treated early on, he said.
Attendees also browsed the art walk, which featured wares from local artists.
Cosmetology students also performed manicures and paraffin wax. Women also received stress relief with a chair massage.
The writer’s corner was a new addition this year, Seal said.
“This was our first attempt at including writers from six different counties,” she said. “We were very pleased with it. Guests were also able to interact with the authors.”
Authors included Whitney Miller, Robert St. John, Mary Beth Magee, Mary Ann McRaney, Janie Walters and Erlene McCarty.
In addition to signing copies of his books, St. John performed a cooking demonstration during lunch, which was prepared by St. John’s staff. While he cooked, artist Wyatt Waters demonstrated his artistic abilities.
St. John represented the voice of the past, as he was the first speaker at the symposium ten years ago, Seal said.
The menu included a Tabella house salad, roasted tomato bisque, Penne Norcia, Shrimp Orecchiette, Caponada and white chocolate bread pudding.
PRCC’s honor students served the meal, Seal said. After the meal door prizes, donated by local businesses and individuals, were awarded to attendees. Each woman also received a set of pearl earrings.
Elnet Smith of Henleyfield is a third time attendee and said the symposium is informative and entertaining.
Elizabeth Stewart said it’s an enjoyable ladies’ day out.
“I really enjoy the atmosphere, the entertainment and technology,” Smith said.
Stewart said she has only heard about some of this medical technology on television and that Melton showed them a lot of devices that are coming in the near future.
Some of those devices include a mobile blood pressure machine, an application to scan for skin cancer, a smart stethoscope and ultrasound, which can be performed with a smart phone, Melton said.
“It’s wonderful that the college offers this to the women of Pearl River County,” Stewart said.
Wynona Morris and Dale Adams of Poplarville have attended the symposium every year and both said it gets better every year.
“They have really good speakers every time and it’s good to see old friends,” Adams said.
Morris said she found out many things she didn’t know before.
“I just love the symposium and I’ve never been disappointed,” Morris said.
The symposium’s steering committee is responsible for planning the event and is made up of volunteers who also purchase their own tickets to the event. This year’s members included Karen Bond, Charleen Null, Janet Braswell, Casey Rawls, Jana Causey, Tara Rouse, Georgia Field, Seal, Barbara Gandy, Maggie Smith, Sharman Ladner, LaDona Tyson, Tonia Moody and Brenda Wells.
“I think it was a great success,” Seal said. “We had first time ladies and ladies who have come all 10 years. According to our evaluation reports, the people got a wide range of information from guest speakers. I truly believe it’s going to make a difference in their lives.”
This year’s event sold out in 10 days, Seal said. The proceeds are used to fund the symposium each year. The Symposium’s grand sponsor is the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1 for the 2017 symposium. For more information contact the Office of Planning and Institutional Research at 601-403-1146.

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