On more than one occasion, I have been driving around town on a Saturday morning doing miscellaneous errands and felt compelled to stop to check out some local health and wellness fair. There are several of these fairs each year around here; it seems that various different groups sponsor the fairs, such as the Disability Expo that is held annually for the past decade each fall at a mall or some other venue. These wellness fairs are generally free to attend, and various exhibitors pay a fixed amount of money to set up a booth at the expo to make the fair cost-effective.
Often the exhibitors are hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, chiropractors, physical therapy clinics, and often a bank or two and some of the media such as the local newspaper, radio or television station. You can expect to find various fitness screenings offered at one of these events such as a spinal check by a chiropractor or a blood pressure check. These fairs are designed to be both educational and interactive with the focus and purpose of being a combination of preventative medicine along outreach with a showcase of available community services and resources to offer opportunities for awareness.
What baffles me about most of the health and wellness fairs that I have attended, most of which have been events in my own town here, is that many or even most of the exhibitors, along with brochures and marketing trinkets, have a container of free candy such as Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Pieces and Tootsie Rolls on their table. Now I’m not at all saying that I don’t overindulge on these free sweets; after all, doesn’t “free” imply that there are no calories? Is the fact that they are offered at a health and wellness expo implying that there is something inherently healthy about these treats?
It’s curious to me that physical therapists and rehabilitation clinics often have a strong presence at these wellness fairs, but I don’t remember ever noticing a table with occupational therapists “strutting their stuff.” The American Occupational Therapy (AOTA) has named April as Occupational Therapy Month to coincide with the annual Occupational Therapy Conference each spring. This has been occurring since 1980, according to AOTA. Because I have done much per diem work where my OT services were contracted by a variety of places rather than having one single workplace, I have never actually participated in Occupational Therapy Month anywhere.
I would enjoy hearing from other occupational therapy practitioners regarding their participation as exhibitors or sponsors of health and wellness fairs and/or how they and their work places have represented OT as part of National Occupational Therapy Month each spring.