Between 1,000 and 1,500 children are expected to attend the Fifth Annual Back to School Health Fair, which is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at the Hannibal Medical Campus.
Hearing, vision, dental and health screenings will be offered. Parents are encouraged to bring prekindergarten and elementary children, so they may have all four free health tests.
“Our goal is to do health assessments of children who attend,” said Stephanie Thomeczek, chief executive officer of Families and Communities Together (FACT), which sponsors the fair, along with health care and numerous other agencies.
“The objective is to create an opportunity for families with little or no access to health care to be able to screen their children for health issues prior to the start of another school year,” she said.
Thomeczek explained that although this back to school fair has always been focused on health, “this year, we wanted to take the fair closer to the health professionals and make it easier for families to find follow-up care if an assessment showed an emergent health issue.
“In the past, we gave out school supplies at the fair, and it seemed over the years many families skipped the health screenings and simply focused on the supplies,” Thomeczek said.
“This year, we will still give away back packs valued at $27 to children who complete at least one health assessment and visit at least four vendor booths.
“The main difference is the school supplies that are gathered during our ‘stuff the bus’ campaign will go directly to our schools so that teachers can give them directly to the children in need. The Hannibal Alliance for Youth Success has partnered with us this year to help with the school supply coordination.
“This school supply drive will hopefully give our teachers a larger outlet for them to help area kids,” she added. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a teacher say they went out to buy supplies for a children or two in their classroom. As a community we can use this to help students be successful without our teachers opening their wallets to buy more school supplies each year for their student’s needs.”
The “stuff the bus” project will continue until Saturday - the day of the fair - with one bus located at WalMart in Hannibal. Another bus will be at the Palmyra County Market until today, Aug. 1, then at the New London Dollar General store on Thursday, Aug. 2, to Saturday. These stores will also have barrels inside where customers may donate school supplies during the week and throughout the Missouri tax-free holiday weekend.
The top 10 school supplies children in the area need are pencils, pens, glue, loose leaf paper, notebooks, folders, rulers, erasers, Crayola Classic markers and 24-count crayons. However, all types of supplies will be accepted.
Page 2 of 2 - School supplies also may be taken to the Families and Community Together (FACT) office at 4 Melgrove Lane in Hannibal between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays, or by appointment by calling FACT at (573) 221-2285.