MERIDEN — Parents with children in tow braved the heat Thursday to run an obstacle course, paint their faces and learn about local health and human services during the Community Health Center’s health fair on the Meriden Green.
“I got a flyer for the kids from WIC (Women, Infants and Children program),” said Yesenia Santos, standing under the shade of a pop-up tent. “We came for the toys, the games, pizza.”
“And lunch,” added her daughter, 6-year-old Yehilanis Restituyo.
Community Health Center Inc. is celebrating National Health Center week with a series of fairs around the state, including Meriden’s event, to reach out to families in the area. Vendors on hand included those from MidState Medical Center, Valentin Karate and New Opportunities. The local YMCA and Boys and Girls Club shared their services to help local children have fun while providing information.
“They wanted us to bring inflatables, but they interact more with this,” Efrain Valentin said, pointing to an elaborate obstacle course maintained and run by students from the martial arts school. “They love doing it.”
This was the first year CHC decided to go with a bigger event, said Mike Rohde, director of community relations for Community Health Center.
“This is a good time for kids and families as well as a way to tell them about opportunities in the community,” Rohde said.
CHC provides primary care services to patients across Connecticut, with a particular focus on underinsured and underserved populations.
Jocelyn Lopez, an outreach and eligibility associate for the CHC, distributed patient information about the portal and answered question about insurance.
Krystal Bailey, an intake certification specialist with New Opportunities for Greater Meriden, handed out information about the agency’s energy assistance, rental assistance, food pantry and other services.
Fire Lt. Chip Morgan demonstrated equipment and let the children climb into the cab of a fire engine and have their picture taken.
Children don’t get too many opportunities to interact with firefighters except in traumatic situations, he said.
“It’s public education,” Morgan said. “We let them know what we do and what it’s like to be a fireman.”
Much of the food, games and back-to-school supplies were donated. Food was distributed through the city’s summer lunch program and C-Town provided water bottles. CHC paid for uncovered expenses.