BELTON — In the corner of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor arena Friday, a group of students watched as their peers tried to maneuver a curving walkway while wearing special goggles that mimicked how surroundings are viewed after indulging in a few too many adult beverages.
Susan Burchfield and Ravonne McCray, both trauma injury prevention coordinators at Scott & White, were at the UMHB Health Quest in the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center, demonstrating how impaired a person becomes when attempting to function at two and three times the legal limit of alcohol.
“We’re showing that your fine motor skills, your perception, everything has changed and you lack the ability to make good decisions,” Burchfield said. “That’s when people get into trouble and have those debilitating injures.”
Initially, participants were asked to take the walk without the goggles.
After they donned the special eyewear, it wasn’t long before McCray was reminding them to stay on the sidewalk. Many might start and finish on the sidewalk, but in between they would walk into the path of a bike, hit a trash can, step on drainage grates or a banana peel, all illustrated on the faux path.
“This exercise illustrates what it would be like to walk home along a street while inebriated and also how foolish it is to get into a car when the driver has been drinking,” McCray said. “If the driver can’t walk, what makes you think they can drive?”
Dizzy was how the exercise made Natalie Ramos, a junior from Katy, feel.
“I’m never going to drink,” Ramos said. “I’m still dizzy. It’s not fun.”
Alcohol provides a false sense of well being, and risky behaviors are likely to follow, McCray said. Distracted driving — talking and texting on a phone, eating, changing CDs, using a GPS — now accounts for more accidents than drinking and driving.
Nationwide, 6,000 people are killed annually in accidents involving distracted driving, according to the Department of Transportation.
In Texas, from 2011 to 2012, there was a 9 percent increase in traffic fatalities that involved distracted driving, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
In other areas of the arena, people were having their posture checked or picking up information from a number of agencies and health care providers.
Susan Robison, manager of the Scott & White Hospice Thrift Store, was challenging everyone she talked to mention the thrift store to 10 other people. Money raised by the thrift store benefits hospice patients.
Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry was signing people up and a blood drive was taking place elsewhere on campus.
Metroplex Health System had eight volunteers doing wellness screenings for those attending Health Quest.
“That includes cholesterol, glucose, BMIs, blood pressure, everything that we can do here,” said Amy Miller, a volunteer.
A copy of the results was given to participants to share with their health care providers.
The information also gives the recommended range for each test.
Two hours into the health fair, 46 health screenings had been completed.
Representatives of Helping Hands and Body of Christ Community Clinic had booths at the fair.
In 2013, Helping Hands Ministry provided 635,787 pounds of food to families.
For the past three years, Helping Hands has added breakfast items to families in the Belton and Academy school districts during spring break, Executive Director Rucker Preston said.
This summer, Helping Hands will supply additional items for families whose children qualify for free breakfasts.
“The meals are offered at the schools, but for many families it’s difficult to get to the schools,” Preston said.