CRYSTAL LAKE – On Wednesday, the McHenry County Children’s Health and Safety Fair took the fear out of going to the doctor by offering kids free games and a chance to win a bike while they got their school-required medical exams.
Area children were able to get caught up on their required immunizations, dental appointments and school physicals all while playing games and learning about health and safety.
The event, located at McHenry County College, was free, and the health exams were offered at a low cost.
“It gives the parents who don’t have insurance an opportunity to get those health requirements taken care of without breaking the bank,” said Mary Reid, chairwoman of the safety fair.
Kids took a card from station to station and received stamps, which they then turned in for school supplies when the card was filled.
Completed cards were turned in as entry into a drawing for a free bike and helmet at the end of the fair.
“It’s a little less formal [than going to the doctor],” Reid said. “It gives them that prize at the end, and they can have some fun.”
The Health and Safety Fair, now in its 23rd year, expected between 1,200 and 1,400 children and parents to attend, Reid said.
More than 45 exhibitors had booths at the fair, providing health and safety related information to parents and children.
Dental hygienist Peggy Master was teaching kids about brushing and flossing techniques, as well as healthy foods that can help keep a clean mouth.
“We’re here because we’re trying to teach oral health to the children,” Master said. “We let [kids] know that the dentist and dental hygienist offices are not a scary place, but a helpful place to be.”
Lisa Siefert was on hand representing Safe Kids McHenry County as well as Shane’s Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to tip-over education and awareness. Siefert lost her 2-year-old child when a dresser fell on him, and she now warns parents about the dangers of tip-over accidents.
“I get to meet people and tell people it really happens,” Siefert said. “I had someone come by who met me at another fair, and she said her whole house is secured now. Knowing that is part of the satisfaction. It probably won’t happen with that family.”
Woodstock resident Heather Lowing brought her four children to Wednesday’s fair and said the day was a great learning experience for her children.
“They’re really learning about how to eat healthy, and they’ve enjoyed all the activities,” she said. “They actually take away quite a bit from this.”