The Elkin Elementary School Annual Health Fair was held on Wednesday in the school gymnasium.
The event started at 8:30 a.m. and ran the entire school day.
School nurse Patricia Stallard spearheaded coordination of the day-long event. Stallard was joined by Debra Matthews, school nurse for Elkin Middle School and Elkin High School along with eight vendors who had booths within the school gym.
“We’ve done this fair for several years. I’ve been here for 11 years and the fair was going on then, too. It’s just built every year,” said Stallard. “We try to incorporate the community and bring them in for education with the children. We bring them in to teach them about health and safety.”
According to Stallard, more than 700 children participate in the fair. Each child received a bag filled with health-related supplies for students. The supplies were provided by vendors and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.
The vendors were: Surry County EMS, Drug Free North Carolina, Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, Elkin Police Department, Elkin City Schools SRO Office, Stone Mountain State Park, Dental Hygienist Pat Shore and the Surry County Cooperative Extension.
“We’re talking about sugar and use of sugar in drinks. We’re talking about what sugar does to a body…it causes you to gain weight, can cause cavities and other tooth decay,” said 4-H agent Whitney Sprinkle with the N.C. Cooperative Extension . Sprinkle showed children several soft drink brands, some which contained the name “fruit” in the drink, but allegedly contained more sugar compared to other items.
Near Sprinkle was Pat Shore who spent 36 years practicing dental hygiene.
“The children who are older generally know of the importance of good dental hygiene, so I spend my time reiterating to them on things. As for the younger children, I have been explaining why its important (oral hygiene) and to teach them about healthy snacks too,” said Shore.
Mary Shepherd, Elkin City Schools teacher of the year, said that the health fair goes hand-in-hand for her fifth-grade students. “This is valuable and critical experience. We just finished study on the human body…It’s a big wow for the children,” she said. “The children are all fascinated by it and it helps them make a connection to what they are learning.”
The Wednesday health fair wasn’t all about sweets. Children were given an up close opportunity to touch some items used by first responders and to take a look at some dangers associated with illegal drugs.
Nathan Gunter with Surry EMS showed children a heart monitor used during first response in emergencies. “They can look at items used during emergencies like this monitor. It helps the children become more familiar with what we do and they feel more comfortable after they understand it.”
“We’re are trying to bring awareness on prescription drugs…the dangers and violence associated with drugs, and some of the items used in crimes,” said Elkin City Schools School Resource Officer Kevin Hall. Surrounding Hall were children who asked questions regarding some of the paraphernalia used with drugs in a display case.
Lt. Detective Mendy Peles of the Elkin Police Department guided children on a discussion regarding Internet safety practices and bullying.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.