JOLIET – Hundreds turned out for health education, tchotchkes, children’s activities and lunch at the Laraway School and Vulcan Materials fourth Annual Health Fair on Saturday.
More than 200 adults and children came within the first hour to view displays by the Will County Health Department, Silver Cross Hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association, Dentists R Us and about a dozen other health and community groups.
Tina Bona, a diabetes instructor at Silver Cross, was providing free glucose tests for adults. Which is just as well, as few children seemed interested in getting poked by her needles.
“It’s just a finger prick,” Bona said, noting that someone in the world is screened with diabetes every 17 seconds. She said she advised one person she screened Saturday to consult with their doctor about blood sugar levels.
The Will County Health Department had several booths at the fair.
Kendra Coleman, who works for the county’s HIV/STD Department was handing out education materials, including AIDS coloring books for children.
Sexually transmitted disease is a problem in Will County, Coleman said. More than 3,000 cases of chlamydia have been reported, as well as about 300 cases of HIV.
Education is a key part of their work. They come to the fair and other events annually, and visit Joliet Central High School twice each year, Coleman said.
“Opportunities are opening up, but there is still a lot to be done,” Coleman said.
Sharrita Vantrece of the Will County Health Department’s Tobacco Control and Prevention Program displayed props on what smoking and chewing tobacco can due to someone’s teeth and lungs. The graphic displays drew a lot of interest from children.
“I think the impression is a lasting one, especially with the props,” Vantrece said.
Cheryl Stokes, Laraway’s school nurse, said the fair has grown larger each of its four years.
“It’s free for everyone, and open to the entire community,” Stokes said. “And anybody who comes gets something free, including lunch.”