LOWVILLE Kasia Gillette brought her three children to the Family Fit-N-Fun Faire because she wanted them to get a jump start on eating right and being active.
We want to teach them about healthy lifestyles, the Lowville Academy social studies teacher said.
The Lewis County Public Health-sponsored event was held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lewis County Fairgrounds. A total of 14 local organizations set up displays aimed at educating and engaging parents and children on living healthy and being safe. For children, there were fun activities such as healthy food hopscotch, exercise activity bingo and sign language riddles. The idea of the fair was to promote overall childhood wellness.
Our main focus was originally lead prevention, said supervising Public Health nurse Marcia M. Ashline, who oversaw the event with several other Public Health employees.
Children with elevated lead can develop learning disabilities, emotional problems, kidney damage and hearing loss, Ms. Ashline said. She added that children between ages 1 and 2 should be tested for lead at their standard doctors appointment.
Lewis County Public Health had struggled with ways to educate the community on the hazards of lead. It was six years ago when it decided to tag team with local agencies that sponsored programs for children. Together, they turned education into a fun event.
I like coming here, said 12-year-old Virginia Hungerford of Turin. Virginia said she has attended the fair with her siblings for several years and she always has a good time.
We always come to see what they have, whats new, said Pamela K. Hutton, who brought her daughters, Kaydence, 4, and Taylor, 1. Last year we came for the car seats.
One of the most popular events at the fair is the car seat safety station.
We look at the car seats, see if there are any recalls on the car seats brought in and check to see that they are installed correctly, said Julia C. Ielfield, who managed the car seat station.
Ms. Iefield suggested parents install seats tightly and ensure they are snug against their child. Seats should not move more than an inch in either direction. She also said parents with children who like to unbuckle their car seat should pull over as soon as the child does so and buckle them back in, as well as buckle themselves in. She said children will learn by the example.
Tina M. Schell, head of the Wellness Committee at Lewis County General Hospital, suggested that parents set a good example for their children by making consciously healthy food choices.
I see a lot of younger parents whose kids are starting out eating healthy with no candy, and thats great, Ms. Schell said. One poster likened one chocolate-covered doughnut to 133 oranges; each serving has 21 grams of fat.
Ms. Schell suggested that children eat healthy snacks such as yogurt-covered raisins or air-popped popcorn without butter and salt. She advised parents and children to eat snacks like doughnuts or other deep-fried foods in moderation. They absolutely should not be part of daily meals. Most important, she urged families to give up soda, which has been linked to cancer, obesity and high blood pressure.
Ms. Gillettes answer to keeping her children healthy goes beyond eating veggies each day and participating in organized sports. As a teacher, I recommend less video games. We limit our children to only half an hour of some sort of technology during the school year, she said.
Cathie J. Wooledge of the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living reminded parents and children that sometimes children who appear healthy may not be. Learning disabilities and mental health illnesses are just a few things that children cannot see just by looking at classmates. Ms. Wooledge suggested children treat these kids like any other kids.
A total of 155 families attended the fair, with 114 children and 82 adults, Ms. Ashline said.
Double Play Sports Center, Mountain View Prevention, South Lewis Bus Safety, Hand in Hand Early Childhood Center, Lowville Village Police, Lewis County Sheriffs Department, North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council, Boy Scouts, Fidelis and YEAH! also participated in the event.