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Clearwater health fair aims to get children ready for school

CLEARWATER — Backpacks and new notebooks aren't all children should stock up on before heading back to school. Add shots and physicals to the list.

A children's health fair, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Springtime City and the city of Clearwater, will provide these free services Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Long Center, 1501 N Belcher Road.

The fair, which is free to children ages 6 months to 19 years, will provide shots, physicals, dental exams, vision screenings, spinal exams and cardiovascular screenings. Information on safety and insurance will also be available.

"We cover all of the bases," fair organizer Doug Williams said. "The kids need it to go back to school."

To attend the fair, children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Parents should also bring the child's 680 immunization form, Williams said.

Spanish-language interpreters will be available, he said.

In previous years, the fair has attracted nearly 300 children and about 1,000 people overall, Williams said. Lines tend to be longer in the morning.

Pinellas County spokeswoman Maggie Hall said parents should start planning now for their children's health requirements before school starts.

"Avoid the school rush in August, because that's when people start thinking about those things," Hall said. "A child who is ready for school is a child who can learn."

Saturday's health fair also will offer echocardiograms, a heart screening similar to a sonogram, to high school athletes. The screening is intended to detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that can cause sudden death in physically active people, said Dr. Donald Auerbach, a physician who will be present at the fair.

"If you're a couch potato, it's not going to give you a problem," Auerbach said. "If you're an athlete, you can die."

An echocardiogram usually costs about $1,500, but Morton Plant Hospital will provide the screenings to high school athletes at the fair for free, Auerbach said.

The health fair depends on donations and services from local health care and service organizations, Williams said. He hopes the fair, which has been running for 18 years, will continue to provide free services to participants in the future.

"It makes you feel good when you see all those little kids trotting in and you know you're doing something to help them," he said.

Katie Park can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or kpark@sptimes.com.

Clearwater health fair aims to get children ready for school 07/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011 7:37pm]
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