Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 21, 2017

Public turns out for fair

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Mar 13, 2017
Photo by: Andy Hallman/Ledger photo Ken Daley of the Tobacco Prevention Center demonstrates the healthy effects of quitting smoking to a group of youngsters Friday at the FMS Health and Resource Fair. The children are, from left, Autumn Rose-McBride, Mackenzie Kaska and T.J. McBride. The giant cigarette Daley held has a twistable bottom that indicates how much a person’s blood pressure has dropped from their last cigarette. The device was used to show that the longer a person has gone since smoking, the healthier they are.

Fairfield Middle School could hardly contain the excitement buzzing through the building during Fridays’ health and resource fair.

The fair was an opportunity for families in the Fairfield school district to get to know local agencies and businesses. The event’s organizer, FMS school counselor Jay Thompson, said he was pleased with the turnout.

He estimated that between 250-275 people participated, not including the 47 agencies and their representatives. The agencies set up booths in the FMS Cafetorium. Meanwhile, classes devoted to mental health awareness, cyber bullying and housing options were taking place throughout the building.

“I think the event was a successful venture of merging the school and community, making sure they have an understanding of what resources are there to support them. At the same time, community agencies can come here and get their message out to their target audience,” Thompson said.

FMS Assistant Principal Matt Jones said Thompson did a phenomenal job of organizing every detail of the event.

“His dedication to our students is off the charts,” Jones said. “The attendance was very good, and we are already thinking of ways we can improve next year.  To have almost 50 organizations from in and around Fairfield attend the fair is a huge testament to the value that our community puts on families and young people.  It makes me proud to be a Trojan.”

Thompson said he has received positive feedback from the participating agencies, who are eager to do it again next year.

If the school hosts another health and resource fair, Thompson said he’d like to do a few things differently. For one, he’d like to spread out the vendors throughout the building to spread out the noise.

“We talked about putting tables in the hallways around the school,” Thompson said. “It would also draw people toward our breakout sessions. That was an area I’d like to see attended better.”

Coordinating an event of this magnitude takes a lot of planning. Thompson began planning for it in October.

Unfortunately, he ran into a snafu along the way. About six weeks ago, he learned that Washington Elementary School had scheduled its Fun Night on the same day as the health and resource fair.

Thompson said the scheduling conflict was unintentional and that he felt bad for the Washington parents who had to choose between one event or the other.

By the time the conflict was discovered, Washington had already agreed to rent space at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, and 36 businesses had committed to the health and resource fair.

The health and resource fair offered participants a pulled pork meal. Thompson said the organizers ordered too much food, and he didn’t want to see it go to waste.

On Sunday, Thompson delivered the remaining food to 11 of the district’s most needy families.

“Each got two bags of pulled pork and leftover veggies,” he said. “It was like Christmas for some families.”

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