By Michael Davis
As summer sets in, several area churches, businesses and Henry County's hospital are planning ways to keep residents healthy.
Summer is a time for fun in the sun but medical professionals urge caution when catching rays.
Though it's one of the most preventable forms of cancer, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year.
Vicky Ayers, community educator at Henry Medical Center, said the focus of the hospital's next health class is on educating parents of the dangers of prolonged exposure to the sun in their children.
"When they get sunburned as a child, it often leads to melanoma later in life," she said.
And though all Henry Medical Center's skin cancer screening appointments are full, they offer helpful tips to prevent it.
Ayers calls it "slip, slap and slop."
"You slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, and slop on sunscreen, at least (Sun Protection Factor) 15," Ayers said.
But the hospital is not the only group offering health fairs around Henry County.
Local business Ladies Workout Express in McDonough is holding its first-ever health fair Saturday.
Massage therapist and fair organizer Angela Streit, said she hopes the event from 1 to 4 p.m. will be the first of twice-yearly fairs held there.
"The facility is normally for women only but this will be for men, women and kids," she said.
The fair will feature screenings for several types of health problems including diabetes n something close to the heart of Ladies Workout Express owner Sharon McCants, whose father died from the disease.
"A lot of people don't even know they have diabetes or that they are susceptible to diabetes," Streit said.
Paul Freeman is also planning the first of what he hopes to be a regular health and fitness fair at his church.
The chief instructor of Christian Karate Academy, an outreach of Henry Baptist Church, Freeman is planning a health and fitness fair at the church June 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The fair, he said, will include health care professionals and screenings for different diseases as well as some free karate instruction.
"If it goes well, we'll plan to do it again next year," Freeman said.
After attending a series of other fairs and seminars, he said it was time to do one of his own. "I just figured I'd rather do something that would be an outreach for the community," he said.