OKMULGEE, Okla.- The College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) held their first Mega Brain inflatable walk through exhibit on Sep. 27 on campus. Current students had the opportunity to learn about how the brain functions. Staff, faculty, students and the community came to view the walk through, the Mega Brain Exhibit.
College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) Case Manager/Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator Patricia Farrell (Mvskoke) spoke about their mission to help students with mental health assistance. This includes providing encouragement and healthy ways to cope with stress.
The exhibit allows guests to touch, and feel an inflatable brain. It teaches on how the real organ can affect you. The event also had a popcorn bar for viewers to enjoy a snack while walking through the exhibit. It was reported that over 100 guests came to view the exhibit. According to Farrell, due to the success from this year’s exhibit the college plans to bring it back next year.
The idea for hosting the exhibit came about when CMN went to a coalition conference in Maryland. The conference discussed the Anti-Drug Campaign Initiative. It was there when CMN staff saw the mega brain exhibit. “We thought it would be valuable and great for our students to experience that because it is an interactive way to learn more about the brain and the anatomy of the brain,” Farrell said.
The Mega Brain exhibit featured a field expert from the mega inflatable company to educate viewers. According to the mega brain website, the inflatable and a field expert can teach on brain injuries and conditions. This can include concussions, depression, brain trauma, and stroke warnings.
Several students present at the exhibit came up to Farrell and shared what they learned about brain health topics like homunculus and marijuana effects. According to Farell, she was happy to see students take away something from the exhibit.
“That’s what’s important to have a healthy brain is to increase exercise, eat healthy, talk with friends, get help and get support,” Farrell said.
Farrell brought up the issue of drug and alcohol abuse within Indigenous communities. Although it can take time to lower the statistics that plague the communities they reside in, Farrell and her team believe it is worth the effort.
“Moving forward they’re going to know ‘this is what I need to do to keep my brain healthy and this is what is going to help me be successful in college and reach my goal. If I don’t then I go the other way around and I am using drugs and alcohol then this what’s going to happen,’ they’ve learned straight up facts about the brain and how it’s affected by all the drugs and alcohol,” Farrell said.
Farrell wants to encourage others to use mental health resources around the college. The college offers opportunities for behavioral counseling that can help with issues related to drugs or alcohol.
“If you know somebody that has mental health or drug issues or alcohol then get them help. We are a great resource, we know a lot of the people in the community,” Farrell said. “We just want our students to be successful but mental health is the goal and we want that for all of our students.”
Along with mental health awareness events and activities, the college also takes surveys on students. This is to see what the students liked, disliked or maybe wanted to see more in regards to future events.
Some of these activities include cultural activities and non-traditional activities. This includes anything that can help reduce stress for students. According to Farrell, the college has provided yoga classes and has brought in massage therapists in the past.
“Everyone copes with stress differently, during midterms and finals we give them care packages with some encouraging words, some snacks or stress reliever things to help them out for those exams,” Farrell said.
CMN works with the community and other organizations to spread mental health awareness. Next spring semester they are partnering with the Johnson O’Malley Program (JOM) in Okmulgee to organize an event for middle school students. It will be similar to their walk through exhibit, however it will include a sit-in presentation and hands-on activities.
For more information on CMN events, contact Patricia Farrell at 918-549-2845 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.