Thousands flock to annual health fair in Southington

Thousands flock to annual health fair in Southington

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — As “Baby Shark” played in the background, children of all ages performed CPR compressions to see who could get their race car over the finish line.

“Baby Shark has the right rhythms,” said Jeanne Kesslor of Hartford Healthcare. “It gets them to 120 beats a minute. It’s a car racing game to challenge people to learn CPR.”

Kesslor is an education specialist at the Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation  at Hartford Healthcare. Sunday, she was helping children and adults learn CPR on four dummies, as the screen showed whose car was moving fastest. 

The CPR activity was one of dozens available to thousands who turned out Sunday to the 11th annual Healthy Family Funfest at the Aqua Turf. The event showcased 200 vendors who offered instruction, demonstrations, and activities to promote family health. 

The Healthy Family Funfest is hosted by Hartford HealthCare and the Southington Community YMCA as a way to introduce healthy living, programs and services to members of the community.

“We wanted to have a day where all the people in the area can have access to all the things they can do to live a healthier lifestyle,”  said Ericka Stinson, director of marketing for Hartford HealthCare.

The festival featured dozens of Hartford HealthCare professionals representing specialties such as senior services, behavioral health, fitness, sleep disorders, rehabilitation and cardiovascular.

There were also free screenings to check blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, balance, sleep disorders and genetics. 

The exhibits filled two large rooms at the Aqua Turf and spilled outside where members of the Southington Fire Department and Hunter’s Ambulance allowed visitors to view equipment. Police officers checked car seats for safety and Life Star air emergency medical helicopter landed for a short time in the courtyard. 

The Southington Community YMCA offered a superhero-themed activities and shared information on Camp Sloper. There was also the Family Fitness Challenge, free book giveaways by the Southington Library and balloon animals by Valentine the Clown.  

“This is a great partnership with a great agency who shares similar goals,” said Mark Pooler, chief executive officer of the Southington/Cheshire YMCA,  

Aubrey Quinlan brought her two children — Stephen, 8 and Liam 2 — to the event. Stephen Quinlan participated in the CPR contest as his brother looked on.

“We’ve been coming three years in a row,” their mom said. “We know there’s activities and information and it gets us out of the house.” 

Members of the Southington Lions Club had screened 50 children for vision abnormalities within the first two hours of the event. 

“We look for near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye, and other disorders,” said Hank Radziwon.  “Usually one in 10 needs a referral.” 

Healthy eating was also on display. Workers from Lewis Educational Agriculture Farm ladled up a Tuscan kale, bean, butternut squash and pancetta soup for festival goers and Rogers Orchards workers handed out free apples.  

“We brought three grandchildren,” said Peter McLaughlin. “ My wife is getting a screening, I’m keeping an eye on three of them. We come every year to see what’s going on and give the kids a break.”
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