Checking out rows of health, wellness and safety displays was just what the doctor ordered – or at least what the Seminole Health Department ordered – for community members and employees at the Spring into Health Fair held on reservations Tribalwide.
“We’re here to promote healthy living, answer general health questions and make people aware of what services are out there for them,” said Lauren Goas, special events coordinator for the department’s Allied Health Program.
Scores streamed through 28 vendor booths manned by representatives from more than a dozen Tribal departments and about a dozen more non-Tribal businesses and agencies May 23 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium.
The Environmental Health Program provided helpful tips about healthy living by including topics from cooking safety and mold awareness to keeping pets from getting heatstroke. Environment specialist Nicholas Persaud gave away outdoor and home safety items, including collapsible water canteens and wooden oven cooking sticks.
The Family Services Department offered a rainbow of brochures about testing and evaluation for youth, recruiting and training foster care families, drug abuse rehabilitation programs followed by sobriety support, and parent education training. Parents and teens were invited to register as volunteers for this year’s Seminole Youth Camp.
“Our contribution covers the gamut of mental health, which we all know is too often overlooked as a health issue,” said Kelli Adams, a counselor on Big Cypress.
Hearing, blood pressure and diabetes screenings were given free by Palm Beach Gardens-based HearUSA, the Seminole Fire Rescue’s paramedics and Seminole Health Department technicians respectively. Dr. Joshua Parrish, a chiropractor, offered free back massages, while Dr. Randall T. Parrish Jr., an optometrist, furnished the latest news about eye care.
Some event tables, such as one manned by Judy Jim, Cultural site coordinator at Big Cypress, granted peripheral health care. She sat with a giveaway box brimming in small plastic bags filled with Seminole-colored beads and string – just enough for a keychain.
“Some people could say making a keychain is stress relieving. Stress can be a health issue,” Jim said.
Seminole Fire Rescue and Seminole Police also came prepared with health-related giveaways: Band-Aids, electrical socket plugs, pill boxes, medicine spoons and no-strain jar openers.
And the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum supplied health fair goers with bug repellent, waterproof necklace medication bottles and a chance to join a lunchtime walking program that invites residents and employees to stroll the Museum’s 1.5-mile boardwalk for free every Monday.
Healthy eating and diabetes prevention was a recurring topic.
The Boys & Girls Club allowed kids and grown-ups to bag their own trail mix – but only using prescribed portions of nuts, seeds, granola, cereal and chocolate chips. The American Diabetes Association gave away free recipes for low-calorie, high-nutrition chicken gumbo and chicken salad. Brenda Bordogna, an education coordinator with the Health Department, tossed around bean bags weighted to illustrate how many extra pounds would be gained annually by eating quarter-pound cheese burgers, french fries, potato chips, candy and other high-calorie, high-fat foods daily.
“People always ask about what foods they should avoid eating,” Bordogna said. “It’s usually the foods we like the most but foods that should be only occasional; they are what we call ‘sometimes foods’ – not for every day.”
Everyone received parting gifts. Children ages 16 and younger took home tiny marigold flower planters. Adults left with potted penta bushes, a native butterfly plant.
Goas said the annual health fair reminds people that good health is achieved – not given.
“We can link anything we to do wellness and how it can improve your life,” she said. “It’s diet and exercise and more. It’s being emotionally, spiritually and mentally well. It’s a way of life.”