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By Josh Presley
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County will be hosting its annual back to school health fair tomorrow morning.
The health fair is from 9 a.m. to 11a.m., and is for children ages 12 and under. It will be held in the hospital lobby, dining room, and walking track.
The health fair is free and will feature health screenings, blood pressure checks, height and weight checks, asthma education, nutrition education, fitness information, and emergency vehicle tours.
The event will also feature educational information from area businesses and organizations such as face painting from the Anchor Club, a “Teddy Bear Clinic” from Dr. Brad Scott with the Creekmore Clinic, poison control and food safety awareness from the Mississippi State University Extension Office, allergy education by Face It from Tupelo, sun safety from the Pilot Club, tobacco education from New Albany City Schools, dental education from Rowan Family Dentistry, seatbelt safety from the Mississippi Highway Patrol, home safety awareness from Babies “R” Us, and bullying prevention from the Union County Schools.
BMH/Community and Occupational Health Coordinator Crystal McBrayer said that the health fair is not just for Union County but for the surrounding areas too.
“It’s a fun morning because we have inflatables and free food and games and things of that nature, but we also have all the educational parts as well,” McBrayer said.
In the past the health fair has only been for ages 4-12 but this year is expanded to include children ages 0-3, also.
Director of Marketing/Physician Relations Nancy Kidd said that since BMH-UC is one of the partners in the “Excel by 5” program, which is designed to better prepare kids for entering school, that seemed natural to include younger kids this year.
“We hope parents will bring their kids out and take advantage of the health fair,” Kidd said. “The whole process of ‘Excel by 5’ is to stimulate the learning process in children so they’re a little more attuned to learning before they ever enter kindergarten.”
Kidd said the hospital has been doing the health fair for over 25 years and every year it seems to get bigger and bigger, and they’re expecting even more this year with the inclusion of the 0-3 age group.
“We usually register around 450 to 500 kids, and that’s just the ones we register,” Kidd said. “We feel comfortable saying we have well over 1000 people come through when we do this event.”
In addition to health and safety information, the fair will also feature free games, hotdogs, drinks, and snacks, as well as free gifts, such as backpacks.
“We set up a station where the kids can get a really nice backpack,” Kidd said. “They will do some backpack safety and then they can go to each station and there will be school supplies along the way in addition to safety material.”
Kidd said the hospital staff is volunteering that day, and the event takes months to plan.
“Our own employees are giving up their day off to come in and work this,” she said. “It’s worth it when you see those children leave here and their bag is full and they’re happy and they’ve had their hot dog and the parents are happy.”
Kidd said the health fair is a community-wide effort and with their community partners, the hospital always gets a positive response from the kids and parents for the health fair.
“We have a community that’s definitely committed to our kids and committed to improving our community through our kids,” Kidd said. “A lot of the programs we do here target kids so we can educate them at a young age so they can make more healthy and smart choices.”