College of Education to host symposium on public health issues for children

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University will host a symposium featuring three children's health advocates at 7 p.m. Monday, March 28, in 278 Forker Building. The event is free and open to the public.

The featured speakers for the "Improving the Public Health of Children: Women Who Make a Difference" symposium are Robin Hamre, dietitian and public health specialist in the division of nutrition and physical activity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.; Anne Murphy, nutrition education evaluation consultant for Michigan State University, East Lansing, Team Nutrition program; and Dr. Sheila Riggs, dentist and executive director of the Wellmark Foundation, Des Moines, part of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa.

Katherine Thomas-Thomas, associate professor of health and human performance and organizer of the symposium, said physical activity and nutrition behaviors are critical health predictors, with lack of physical activity soon expected to surpass smoking as a health risk factor.

"As we see negative health outcomes -- obesity for example -- increase in children as well as adults, the work of public health professionals becomes more important," Thomas said.

The symposium will explore the career paths, child health issues and impacts each woman has experienced.

"Robin, Anne and Sheila each have taken a unique approach to improving children's health," Thomas said. "We will learn about the risks they have taken, the responsibilities they have accepted and the value their work has brought, personally and to others. The event will provide insight into the path each speaker has taken, rather than focusing solely on the outcomes of their work."

The department of health and human performance in Iowa State's College of Education is sponsoring the symposium.

The symposium is made possible in part by the generosity of F. Wendell Miller, who left his entire estate jointly to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Mr. Miller, who died in 1995 at age 97, was born in Altoona, Ill., grew up in Rockwell City, graduated from Grinnell College and Harvard Law School and practiced law in Des Moines and Chicago before returning to Rockwell City to manage his family's farm holdings and to practice law. His will helped to establish the F. Wendell Miller Trust, the annual earnings on which, in part, helped to support this activity.