500 participate in health fair, back-to-school treat

MORE than 500 residents, mostly children, were recently feted at a community health fair and back-to-school treat at the Exchange All Age School in Exchange, north-east St Ann, in preparation for the upcoming academic year.

The Sandals Foundation, which organised the fair, was supported by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Phoenix Health Complex and Vision Centre. People from the communities of Exchange, Mile End, and Ocho Rios in St Ann as well as Jeffery Town in St Mary attended the event, where they received educational items as well as optical checks and school medicals.

Heidi Clarke, executive director of Sandals Foundation, expressed her delight at the overwhelming turnout.

“It was incredible to see so many children and families attend this event, and together with our team members from Sandals and Beaches Resorts as well as our partners we were able to provide these services and assist families in offsetting some of the costs associated with back-to-school preparations,” said Clarke.

Community members expressed delight and appreciation for the day’s activities.

Richard Ferguson, a single father who travelled with his two children from Jeffery Town in St Mary, could not contain his excitement after receiving stationery and other supplies.

“I am all these children have,” Ferguson said, “and with back-to-school just around the corner, these gifts will help me a lot in cushioning the financial challenges that I am currently facing.”

He added: “The school medicals and the opportunity for them to see a doctor worked well for me because I don’t have to find money to do those anymore.”

Another parent, Tresann Whyte, who works as a security guard, said, “I am currently coming straight from work and didn’t even bother going home and changing because this assistance was desperately needed.”

“These stationery items were required because I am on a tight budget and receiving these items, which includes quality school bags, will allow me to save significantly for my two boys. We are overjoyed,” said Whyte.

“My team and I saw more than 300 students for school medicals and examinations. The health centre was able to assist us in providing the necessary support for the three medical doctors with supporting team from the St Ann Health Department to help in providing vaccination, dental care, and health checks,” said Dr Rogelia Wallace, district medical officer for the parish of St Ann.

The children from primary to high school were able to have their eyes tested and consult with professionals as well as complete their school medicals and participate in physical activities with the Jamaica Moves team. The Exchange All Age School also provided support by allowing the Sandals Foundation team to utilise their grounds for the event.

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