MERIDEN — Adult family members of children in the YMCA Head Start program were offered free health screenings Thursday afternoon at the YMCA Head Start school on Liberty Street.
Parents and guardians picking up their children after school could spend a few minutes having their blood pressure and eyes screened, and collect information from SNAP-Ed about healthy living. Head Start also offered platters of fresh vegetables, water and Goldfish crackers.
“One of our goals for Head Start is to look at obesity,” said Patti Bastiaanse, health and nutrition manager for Head Start. “We’re seeing it not only with our children, we’re seeing it with our adults.”
Bastiaanse said the goal is to promote healthy living through nutrition, exercise and weight loss.
Volunteers from MidState Medical Center and Healthy Eyes Alliance performed the screenings, and representatives from a St. Joseph University and the SNAP-Ed grant program, administered by the Department of Public Health, provided information on “how to make a change” in your diet.
“Whatever the need is in the community, we try to respond,” said Tina Rodriguez, an outreach educator with MidState. At Head Start Thursday, a MidState nurse took people’s blood pressure, and gave them a card with their results and educational information “so they can understand their blood pressure,” Rodriguez said.
SNAP-Ed representatives used visual examples of how much salt and sugar are in popular refreshments to help people better understand what they are consuming. For instance, an otherwise empty bottle of Coca-Cola was partially filled with sugar to show how much is hidden in the soda.
“If you didn’t see it that way, you wouldn’t realize how much sugar is in that soda,” Bastiaanse said.
Bastiaanse said Head Start has done screenings in the past, but this is the first time they’ve consolidated different types into one event. The program expects to hold more health fairs for families in the future.