Keeping Kids Healthy with Tri-Valley Health Fair

Keeping kids healthy and ready for school is the goal of the first-ever Tri-Valley Health Fair.

Carnaval de la Salud, or carnival of health, will be held Saturday, August 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Ave., in Livermore.

"It's basically to help promote healthcare in the valley," health fair coordinator Beth Sblendorio said. "It's a gateway to accessing quality medical care through a local provider."

The event targets low-income families that may not have access to local healthcare due to a lack of insurance or being unable to find a provider who accepts Medical.

"We're hooking them up with a provider," Sblendorio, a former school nurse, explained.

The drop-in event allows children ages 5 through 18 to get free health, dental and vision screenings. All of the providers taking part in the fair are volunteering their time and expertise.

Immunizations may be available, but that has not yet been confirmed.

Immunizations are critical for all children because certain immunizations are required before a child can enroll in school.

"You have to have a physical and a health screening before you start kindergarten, along with immunizations," she said.

Older students may need booster immunizations to continue in school or physical exams to qualify for sports.

Children deemed to need more help beyond the health fair will be referred to Axis Community Health, which offers affordable medical services for low-income families.

The health fair is the brainchild of a committee charged with improving healthcare options for low-income families in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore. It is a joint effort of the three cities and school districts, plus Alameda County.

"What the committee chose to do is put on a health fair to help these kids," Sblendorio said. "The target population is underserved (children), particularly in the Latino community. But anybody who comes, we will screen them."

Sblendorio and Kirsten Dwyer, a parent liaison with the Pleasanton school district, were hired by the committee to organize the health fair.

"We are trying to reach people who currently do not have health insurance or do not have a particular medical provider they see," Sblendorio said.

Alameda County social services will have computers set up to help families learn about health insurance options and sign up on the spot.

The health fair is funded by Measure A, which imposes an extra half-cent tax in Alameda County to fund much-needed public healthcare resources.

The health fair also provides a multitude of volunteer opportunities for people age 15 and older. While medical volunteers are needed, there are also plenty of non-skilled jobs such as helping with registration and refreshments.

A particular need is bilingual volunteers who can serve as a bridge between Spanish-speaking families and people working at the health fair.

The all-day fair will feature information tables sponsored by groups such as Kaiser Permanente, ValleyCare Health System and Axis Community Health. There will be bicycle safety information, including helmet fittings, and child car seat installation demonstrations. Families can even learn how to make healthful meals.

Wheels will offer free bus rides for anyone who presents a health fair flier or save-the-date postcard with the Wheels logo on it.

Learn more about the Tri-Valley Health Fair at . The health fair is free and no registration is required. Volunteers may also sign up at the website.

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