By Alan Sorensen
Rocky Boy High School's football field will be a haven for health and hearty appetites for eight hours Friday.
From 1 to 9 p.m., people will be able to browse booths and enjoy barbecued chicken at the Chippewa Cree Health Fair "Taking a Step into Healthy Living."
The health fair is co-sponsored by the Rocky Boy Health Board, 10,000 Steps Kickoff Program and Bristol-Myers-Squibb.
The health fair is particularly significant at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation where the median age, according to the U.S. Census, is just at 20.5 years, the youngest in the state. Much of the blame for the low average age is laid on the high incidence of potentially fatal conditions ranging from high blood pressure to cancer. The rate of diabetes among members of the Chippewa Cree Tribe at Rocky Boy is particularly high. In its more virulent form, diabetes can lead to blindness, toe, foot and leg amputations, and death.
Yvonne Hill, one of the organizers, said that more than 20 booths will be set up on the football field to help people recognize their health issues and provide tips on healthy living.
Hill, who is primarily concerned with the high incidence of diabetes at Rocky Boy, said the 10,000 Steps program will be giving away 100 pedometers and water bottles.
The pedometers, which estimate the distances people walk by responding to their body motions, are intended to provide their users with records of their daily pedestrian travels.
Hill said the pedometers and water bottles will be split evenly between the first 50 diabetics and first 50 nondiabetic community members.
"The reasons we're doing it is because we're try to prevent diabetes here and we're trying to decrease the complications in our current diabetic population," she said.
The reason for the 10,000 steps, she said, is because that's the average number of steps a person should take each day to stay in relatively good health.
"That's five miles a day," Hill said. "That doesn't mean going out for a walk. This just means from the minute you get up until the moment you go to bed, whatever you do during the day, should amount to 10,000 steps to be in optimal health."
Hill said the people with the pedometers would be part of a six-month trial group.
"The people try to figure out their average steps in a week and we'll try to get them to double those steps in three months," Hill said. "We'll keep doing this for six months and they should have increased from there to the six-month mark, maybe even double them.
"We're trying to motivate them. We're giving them incentives and things like that to try to motivate them."
If it works, Hill said, the pedometers and program would be made available to even more people.
"Those people who are interested but come late will be put on a waiting list and when the six months are over, those are the people who will get the pedometers," Hill said.
The day's schedule also includes a drug- and alcohol-free dance with music by Green River Band Rocky Boy, a local group that plays early rock 'n' roll.
Hill said that the booths will open at 1 p.m. and that the food will be served later in the afternoon.
"We'll let people browse around and there will be other activities," Hill said.
About 4 p.m., a representative from Bristol-Myers-Squibb will give a presentation on the 10,000 Steps program, what it is and what it hopes to accomplish. "Then the food and then the dance," Hill said
The complete menu for Friday consists of marinated chicken breast, green salad, baked potato, relish tray and trail mix. Beverages will be ice tea, water and lemonade.
For more information about the health fair, call Renita, Loni, Dorcas or Yvonne at 395-4486.