A variety of give-aways and services are being offered to area school-age children at this year's Back-to-School Health Fair, scheduled Aug. 3 at the Mexico United Methodist Church. Hair cuts at no cost are among the new services being offered.
HealthCare USA, the Community Health Ministries Team and the Audrain County Health Department are working diligently, preparing for this year's Back-to-School Health Fair, in hopes that youth/families will attend and take advantage of the community's generosity and efforts to prepare kids for school.
"Currently, we've had a team meet every two weeks to review the logistics to make sure it's a successful fair, as well as an improvement over the previous years we have done this," said Dave Buhr, member of the Community Health Ministries Team and the health fair committee. With the help of various local churches, organizations, individuals, the CHMT, the Mexico Area YMCA and local law enforcement, Buhr said "We're trying to do positive things in the community" to help those in need of the assistance.
Buhr said last year's fair attracted more than 250 city and county children, that received various health services, school-related supplies and brand new backpacks that are donated by HealthCare USA. He said the committee hopes more students and their families will attend this year.
The day of the fair, Buhr said, students will arrive at the church and go through the educational building entrance to receive various healthcare screenings – that will include checks for diabetes, glucose, blood pressure, immunization checks, dental, hearing and eye screenings and the sheriff's department's positive identification services that include a photo and fingerprints.
"The positive identification services were so well received last year that we ran out of forms. So, we're offering it again this year," Buhr said.
This year's new hair cut services, Buhr hopes, will be just as popular. He said that a couple of area physicians will also be available for healthcare issues that are detected as the kids go through the health department booth.
"Last year, we had a lot of abnormalities found in the dental, vision and blood pressure screenings. Our hope is that the early interventions will make a difference in these people's lives."
Buhr added: "We have engaged a lot of churches in the community, the United Way, the General Federation of Women's Clubs and church campaigns to get various school items, crayons, pencils and spiral paper for the fair. And, as each student goes through they will receive various services and a really nice back pack filled with lots of supplies to start their new school year."
Vendors representing various services will have booths set up for families to visit and learn about services in the area that people may not know about — such as the Audrain County Crisis Intervention Services, the Audrain County Literacy Council, University Extension and many others. The Mexico Area YMCA is providing breakfast, lunch and water for students as they wait in line to enter the fair. Buhr warns that lines into the fair may be long. To help ease the wait time, he said, the Mexico Public Safety Department is providing tents to provide shelter from the weather and to help expedite the event.
Page 2 of 2 - Buhr said the community has really rallied in support of the health fair. On Aug. 1, Melody's Quality Jewelry is holding an ice cream social to gather school supplies for the fair, and the United Credit Union is sponsoring a "pack the bus" event to support health fair needed supplies. Any donations left over from the fair, he said, will be distributed to all schools in the county including St. Brendan, St. Joseph, Community R-6, Van-Far and all pubic schools in Mexico. The focus he said, will be on elementary and preschool students.
"It's good to see so many individuals in Mexico and Audrain County come together to support such a worthwhile event. There are a lot of folks involved on the committee and with the project. Each year, our hope is to keep getting better."
The United Methodist Church is located at 122 E. Promenade in Mexico. Anyone wanting to donate items for the fair can visit the church, or call 581-4791. All children attending the fair must be accompanied by a parent or adult.