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Fair teaches students good health, nutrition

Photo by Contributed Photo, Contributed

Eighth-grader grader Solomon Zapata, of Norwalk, enjoys a lighthearted moment at the recent health fair.

Staff members from Community Health Center hosted a health fair July 16 for students attending the Horizons Summer Enrichment Program at New Canaan Country School, with the goal to educate students about health and wellness and allow them to interact with health care professionals in a casual setting.

With oral and behavioral health, emotional well-being and childhood obesity being significant issues facing adolescents, activities at the health fair were organized into four specific zones that focused on nutrition, fitness, dental and overall health and wellness.

The CHC's clinical staff provided interactive informational sessions and activities for the students throughout the day. The students received a "health passport" that allowed them to easily keep track of what they learned.

The "nutrition zone" included a cooking demonstration by a registered dietitian and an informational session with a registered nurse. The fitness-based activities included a Zumba class and a fitness test. The "dental zone" included an informational session with a hygienist and a healthy smile informational booth. The overall health and wellness zone included an interactive activity with a CHC psychiatrist and a yoga class.

"I wanted to organize the event to allow the students to learn about health and wellness and to be exposed to health care professionals within an informal setting," Rishonda Thomas, AmeriCorps member with CHC and event organizer, said.

"Not many students get an opportunity to interact with health care professionals outside of a hospital or doctor's office, so I wanted to create an opportunity for them to ask questions during the sessions or follow up with the providers afterwards. It was great to see the students ask questions or pose for pictures in the provider's white coats and call themselves doctors."

Amy Taylor, vice president of the western region for the Community Health Center, said, "By educating children on health and wellness they can help inspire their peers and future generations to make healthier lifestyle choices.

"The success of the event is unquestionable; from huge smiles during the lively Zumba classes, to intimate conversations on mental health issues with our psychiatrist, to the milk mustache photo booth, you could tell that the kids learned a lot about health and wellness, while having fun with their peers."

Horizons' summer program for students in kindergarten to grade eight on the campus of New Canaan Country School serves approximately 275 children. The program is a blend of academics and enrichment, offering students opportunities to develop their academic skills through project-based, experiential activities.

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