An entertaining and informative street festival and children’s health faire took place outside the Glendale YMCA on April 18.
Those attending The First Annual Kids Health Faire – mainly children and their parents, had an opportunity to participate in fun games emphasizing interactive learning and to obtain information from about 40 exhibitors. Organizations represented were mostly non-profit groups involved with optimizing the health and well being of children
Health and dental screening booths were popular attractions. Jasmine Barte, a student from the GCC College of Nursing, was measuring the height and weight of children while providing health counseling.
She explained that “a lot of people don’t have access to information about their own health and it’s really important to start them off young so that they won’t develop problems later.”
“A lot of children come to us if they are underweight and they are lacking certain nutrients in their diet so we educate them how to get those nutrients,” said Barte, “.for those who are overweight we have ways to avoid childhood diabetes – so it’s a health education preventative measure.”
Entertainment was provided by several local groups of performers, both children and adults, with an emphasis on fitness. Healthy food with free samples was in abundance, much provided by the nearby Whole Foods Market.
The program was sponsored jointly by the YMCA and the Glendale Healthy Kids organization.
The Glendale Healthy Kids program was started in 1994 by the Glendale School District and City of Glendale together with three local hospitals. The vision of the program is “a community in which every child has optimal health.”
Brian Bergh, president of the board of directors of Glendale Healthy Kids, explained that the program “serves children of underinsured low income families of Glendale and the local area – we provide access to health care for those children.”
“We are doing this to help kids and families to stay healthy and emphasize how important wellness is,” said Helena Dani, director of youth and membership services of YMCA.
Remedial educational services were also represented. According to Kimberly Tsai of the Learning Academy Program from Glendale’s YMCA, those interested can sign up to be a private tutor.
“We tutor kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Tsai. “We guarantee that they improve at least one year in reading, math or writing within the first 40 hours of instruction. If you want to be a teacher it is a great start …it’s wonderful when you work with kids.you learn from them. Over the past five years, we have worked with more than 300 students using an individualized tutoring program.”
The current economic downturn has resulted in the families of more children than ever being unable to afford the basics of healthcare that are often taken for granted. When a child is unable to obtain care for vision, dental or chronic medical conditions such as asthma their lifelong development may be adversely affected. We cannot expect unhealthy children to become healthy adults.
Additional services such as educational tutoring, nutritional, psychological, and family counseling services can also make a tremendous difference if available at an early stage in development.
For those in the GCC community many opportunities are available to assist in improving the health of underserved local children. Besides the satisfaction of contributing to the good of others, we can benefit from improving our skills in areas such as counseling and education.
Those interested may learn more about the Glendale Healthy Kids program at www.glendalehealthykids.org or can call (818) 548-7931.