Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | May 28, 2017

Free health, resource fair March 10

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Feb 23, 2017

Fairfield Middle School counselor Jay Thompson wants Fairfield families to come one, and come all ready to learn, eat and enjoy at the 2017 FMS Health & Resource Fair from 5-7:30 p.m. March 10 at FMS.

“This is for all Fairfield Community School District students and their families,” Thompson said of the free health and resource fair that’s the first of its kind for the district.

“We’ll have about 37 vendors in the FMS commons area … everything from Housing and Urban Development who are coming from Des Moines, to dance studios, eye care [services], the [Fairfield] Library, the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, Habitat for Humanity, Optimae LifeServices and many more agencies and businesses.

“The idea is about meeting the needs of families and their children in as many ways that we possibly can — meaning mental health, physical health and just wellness in general. It’s about making that school and community connection so that people understand that there are many, many resources out there to help them,” he said.

Thompson, who joined FCSD last fall, said that he’s organized a similar event in the past. That event saw success, and he’s hoping this one will, too.

“I did it before in Des Moines when I worked at an elementary school. We’ll have nonprofit and for-profit agencies and businesses — just a little bit of everything, which is what I think is so neat about it,” he said. “It’s the one stop shop. My hope is that parents can get some ideas and make some connections.”

Thompson said the district has been planning the event since last fall, and that many people have been involved in pulling it all together.

During the 2.5 hour-long event, parents can take part in parenting classes, mental health awareness sessions, learn about the effects of cyber bullying, discover housing opportunities and a host of other things.

Students can enjoy an open gymnasium and various other activities.

“Optimae is doing mental health awareness in teams to help parents understand what’s normal and what might be abnormal behavior,” Thompson said, adding that Heidi Winn of First Resources Treatment and Counseling Corporation of Ottumwa, and Richard Stapleton of Optimae would be leading parenting sessions.

Certified prevention specialist from Sieda Kitty Bogle will lead breakout sessions for parents on substance abuse for teenagers and pre-teens.

“The Iowa State Extension office will be offering session on parenting 10-14- year-olds. FMS assistant principal Matt Jones will be offering sessions on cyber bullying and general bullying awareness. I think he’s also working on getting someone from law enforcement to come in on that,” Thompson said.

“While those are going on, we’ll have activities for kids in the gym, there will be open sports and more controlled activities. Our physical education teachers will be there. There will be crafts in the art room; we’ll have drumming or music available; and our own [science, technology, engineering and math] program from the middle school will have a cart set up that will have different hands-on activities,” he said.

In addition to the many resources available that night, Thompson said the first several hundred who show up would enjoy a free healthy meal, sponsored by the Fairfield Kiwanis Club, Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store and Walmart.

“We’re going to feed the first 350 that come through the door. We’ll have pulled pork sandwiches, fresh veggies and fresh fruit,” Thompson said. “The Kiwanis Club gave a very sizable donation. They cut a big check that will cover most of the costs.”

Thompson said participants could also receive door prizes to their favorite local businesses.

“We’ve already got donations from Pizza Ranch, and the Sweet Spot — just to name a [few], and I have many more that are pending and still coming,” he said. “Our principal, Mrs. Laura Atwood, is working on a T.V. donation to raffle at the end of the event! You’ve got to be present to win. We want people to come there, eat a healthy meal, pick up some new ideas and new skills and make connections with resources that can help them.”

“We are here for student and their families,” he said.

For more information, contact FMS at 472-5019.

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