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Health and wellness fair a first for two Watertown agencies

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Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County staff members have been keeping to themselves helpful hints and tricks to staying on track by eating right and participating in physical activities — until now.

While few community members attended the inaugural health and wellness fair, which was co-hosted by the American Red Cross of Northern New York, extension staff will remain busy educating each other, clients and people within the community to live well, according to Holly C. Boname, the extension’s marketing and communications coordinator.

“The wellness committee and nutrition department — the resources within our means are so broad,” she said, regarding the agency’s offerings. “This is taking that next step and offering it to the community.”

About 30 vendors attended the fair, held Monday at the office of both agencies — 203 N. Hamilton St. People could learn about nutrition, get their blood pressure or vision checked, enjoy a massage, and pick up pharmacy information, among other tips.

Before branching out to the community, some of the extension’s best-kept secrets included a 30-day burpee challenge, where staff members were asked to do an amount of burpees, or squat thrusts, that corresponded with the number of each day of that month. While Miss Boname said she didn’t make it all 30 days, extension nutrition educator Wanda L. Collins did. Mrs. Collins, wellness committee member, said one of the accomplishments staff is proud of is its healthy snacks ‘vending machine’ where people can pay 50 cents for a fruit, vegetable or other healthy alternative to junk food.

Monday’s fair also featured yoga sessions, taught by extension youth and family development program leader Stephanie A. Graf, and a blood drive at the Red Cross. Chapter Executive Jane G. Gendron said 12 appointments were scheduled Monday, but the Red Cross will need help from many more to make up for the 1,500 canceled blood drives nationwide due to inclement weather this winter.

While only two were canceled in the north country in recent months, Mrs. Gendron said the local Red Cross affiliate was asked — as were other chapters throughout the country — to hold extra blood drives to make up the difference.

She said all Red Cross staff and volunteers have a lot of work ahead of them in coming months because while they look to add more drives to make up for the winter loss, they must also prepare for summer, when blood drives are less frequent when people are out of school and on vacations.

For more information on extension programs, visit www.ccejefferson.org, and for the Red Cross visit www.redcross.org.

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