HPAC holding 5K walk for obesity awareness

Members of the Southern Local High School Health Professionals Affinity Community (HPAC) organization are gearing up for the Prevention is Just One Step Away 5K Walk on March 24. Pictured are (from left) advisor Nancy Saling and members Harmony Black, Jasmine Black, Somer Madden and Karlie Blissenbach. (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE — The Southern Local High School Health Professions Affinity Community (HPAC) organization will hold a special event this month to address the important topic of obesity awareness and is calling on community members to take a step for health.

Organized by member Harmony Black, the Prevention is Just One Step Away 5K Walk is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 24 at the school track. The event is free and individuals can sign up “to get moving and support the health and well-being of themselves and others,” a release reads.

“Last year, I was thinking about focusing on a charity but another HPAC member suggested doing a 5K walk for obesity awareness. I think it’s important,” said Black, who is being assisted by sister and fellow member Jasmine Black. “We are looking for participants and hoping to raise awareness.”

Organizers noted it was not a race and trophies will not be presented, but the real reward is supporting health. However, walkers will receive a 5K bracelet for each lap they complete and will get a dozen for the entire trek. Youngstown State University students are expected to attend while community outreach agencies were also being contacted to take part.

Advisor Nancy Saling said the organization, which is now in its fourth year at the high school, has promoted awareness in the past on such issues as heroin addiction and depression. This year, each of the members took on different subjects to highlight in the school and community, including autism and heart disease.

“We have three different projects under the umbrella of awareness and they will have tables set up at the 5K Walk,” she commented.

HPAC member Somer Madden’s platform is autism and she has been in contact with the Autism Society of Ohio to aid that cause, while fellow member Karlie Blissenbach is taking on the issue of heart disease.

“I basically wanted to make sure people were aware of what autism is. I think people don’t understand it,” Madden said. “The Autism Society of Ohio in Youngstown raises money and works with kids with autism. I am looking to work with them.”

“I chose the topic of heart disease because a few of my family members have suffered from heart disease or heart-related issues,” added Blissenbach. “I did research and found that statistically heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.”

For her part, Blissenbach organized CPR training for senior class members and hopes to provide blood pressure and CPR information at the 5K.

The high school’s HPAC is the only one of its kind in Columbiana County and began as an outreach effort from NEOMED to encourage interest in the health profession. All four of the school’s members said they are interested in the field and plan to take part in NEOMED’s annual Scholar Days event, where they will present posters on their subjects on April 29 in Rootstown.