Clayton County Board of Education member Charlton Bivins, from left, Superintendent Luvenia Jackson and Sequoyah Middle Principal Lonnie White have their blood pressures taken by Southern Crescent Technical College practical nursing students Sheila Stewart, Stephanie Reynolds and Deidre Thurmon during the district’s Community Health Fair Saturday. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
RIVERDALE — School board member Charlton Bivins was among the many faces at “The Heart of the Matter: A Community Health Fair” hosted by Clayton County Public Schools.
A screen of high clouds muted the sunshine as families, welcomed by mild morning temperatures, entered Sequoyah Middle for Saturday’s community health fair.
The event was part of the district’s Comprehensive School Based Healthcare Center project. It featured 35 vendors and exhibitors, each armed with free health services, screenings and healthcare information.
Bivins said he attended the fair as both an example to parents and to learn firsthand about the services a school district community health center could provide.
“This is my gauge to assess the need,” said Bivins. “And the need is there.”
He joined other school officials like Superintendent Luvenia Jackson and Sequoyah Middle Principal Lonnie White, who intermingled with small crowds of parents and students moving, exhibit to exhibit, through the community health fair.
Along his way, Bivins was invited to have his blood pressure taken by Deidre Thurmon of McDonough. Thurmon was one of the practical nursing students giving blood pressure screenings for Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin.
Jeff Patridge spoke to a group of young students and a couple of parents in a classroom nearby. Representing ERTSS Training Center for the American Heart Association, he demonstrated some basic lessons in CPR.
Barber Jerl Leary, owner of Black Ice in Atlanta, volunteered to give fresh haircuts across the hall while Shanice Coleman, an apprentice with VisionCheck LLC of Jonesboro, helped with preliminary vision checks next door.
Summer Hurst joined fellow message therapist students from Everest Institute in Jonesboro to rehearse their trade in one room while Dr. Robert Alpert and his Jonesboro-based Southmetro Chiropractic team gave back massages in the next room.
Organizers of the community health fair said rising seventh-graders in the district were able to receive vaccinations. Visitors could also receive hearing screenings, electrocardiogram testing and diabetic and cholesterol screenings.
Several information displays rimmed the perimeter of the school cafeteria — manned by representatives of the district’s student services, school nutrition, health services and police departments.
Physical activities included the Unique Minds Zumba class in the gymnasium, the district’s physical education department’s health and fitness walk and free play with indoor basketball and outdoor volleyball and football.
Organizers also invited some familiar mobile units from LifeSouth Community Blood Center, Southside Medical Center, Family Health Centers of Georgia and Help A Child Smile Mobile.
Riverdale Middle parent Tarena Singleton said the community health fair was much larger than the event she attended last year. She said the fair was an opportunity for her to learn more about healthcare for her family.
“This is very informative,” said Singleton. “It’s bigger than the last one. I think it’s proactive, because they’re bringing things that can be helpful to parents.”
Officials and health care professionals have been out gauging public sentiment on the health needs of Clayton County and how best to address the needs.
Dr. Tamera Foley, the district’s teaching and learning executive director, helped organize the community health fair.
She has spoken at several monthly stakeholder meetings, where officials have been gathering input from citizens on forming a school-based health center in the district.
Upcoming meetings are set for April 16, May 15 and June 16. Future times and locations are available at www.clayton.k12.ga.us.
Comments and suggestions for the school-based health center are being accepted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.