A school is a community by itself, but it is also part of a larger community, of parents, businesses and organizations who all support each other to create a successful environment.
That’s the bottom line, albeit with a health twist, at tomorrow’s Back to School Health Fair at Sonoma Charter School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The health fair is put on by Sonoma Valley Community Health Center as part of its National Health Center Week celebration, and sponsored by several Sonoma Valley organizations such as La Luz, Sonoma Valley Hospital and more.
The Facebook page for the health fair posted about each organization involved and what they will be providing. At the top of the page, the cover photo is four different colored handprints and the caption: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Maricarmen Reyes, the health center’s outreach and events coordinator, believes no parent should overlook this event because, “it provides resources and services they need to support their children.”
The fair will have several informational booths from organizations such as La Luz, Redwood Credit Union, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Valley Hospital, Verity, etc. Additionally, the fair will provide services such as a free Tdap (tetanus-pitheria-pertussis) vaccine and free school supplies, all at a first-come, first-serve basis.
“A lot of parents don’t look for the resources until they have the problem, so it becomes a case of intervention rather than prevention,” Reyes said. “We try and provide all the resources parents need to ensure their child will be successful throughout the school year.”
Reyes stressed that this is more than just a health fair, as many of the resources go beyond physical or mental health. The fair encompasses everything about going back to school. Verity, a Santa Rosa nonprofit, will have an educational presentation about sexual assault and Redwood Credit Union will present on financial literacy for teenagers with a raffle for a $50 RCU account.
“A lot of kids are starting to work at a young age, even at 15 years old,” Reyes said. “We teach them financial literacy to prevent them having debt and not being able to pay it back, and so they know about having good credit and being able to successfully budget themselves, so that they become thriving teenagers and later, thriving adults.”
In the grand scheme of things, the health fair aims at preventing issues families may encounter throughout the school year, stopping an issue before it evolves into an alarming problem.
“We’re trying to prevent many things, for example, a student not having health coverage,” Reyes said.
Reyes says part of informing students and families about different health resources and resources for health insurance such as Medi-Cal also ensures that students develop a routine of getting coverage so they can continue being insured as they enter adulthood.
“We also provide information on nutrition to prevent health issues such as obesity, which leads to problems like hypertension – one of the most common health problems in the United States,” she said.
The resources showcased at the health fair will help parents and students have a healthy start to the school year while making sure they know where to go in case a problem or emergency arises and they need help later on.