Hosting their eighth annual back-to-school health fair at the Mexico Methodist Church, Audrain County Health Department staffers and volunteers of Mexico’s Community Health Ministry team, were upbeat on what they were accomplishing.
They estimated over 300 school-age children passed through the church doors and received school supplies, back packs, public health screenings, hearing and vision screenings and dental assessments.
“Public support of this has been wonderful,” the health department’s Chris Newbrough said. “Many of the local businesses and organizations really stepped up to
support the health fair.”
He called the event an “outreach to the underserved.”
The goal of everyone there, Newbrough said is “To help children, to make sure they have the basic health screenings they need at school age.”
Health Department staff and ministry team volunteers were not the only ones pitching in.
Along with Mexico YMCA volunteers making sure a nutritious lunch was available to all who wanted one. “The vendors were also here to help,” Newbrough said. “Many were there to offer advice and help on job searches or filling out insurance forms.”
That included one vendor, said John Johnson of the United Methodist Church’s Health Ministry Team, called the “Shoe-man” who helped children sign up for a free pair of shoes.
Rhonda Claywell, there helping Maycee, Huntress and Cole pick up back packs said the was grateful for the event.
“It’s a pretty good program,” she said as Huntress scrutinized a multi-colored back pack. “It’s good for the kids. Not all parents can always get them what they need for school.”
Hosting and participating in the health fair is more than a job for severe of the organizers.
“Seeing the smile on their faces says it all,” Newbrough said after discussion the dangers of heart disease, cancer and their relationshiop to tobacco as he and anti-smoking volunteer and registered nurse Lawanah Gillette discussed the dangers of smoking with some children and their parents.
“I’ve lost so many relatives to cigarettes, it’s a passion to me,” Gillette said as she took down her display as the health fair ended. “I’m passionate about getting the information out there. It is so hard to stop smoking once you start.”