Last updated: July 12. 2014 11:34PM - 1566 Views
By Geri Gibbons Times Leader Correspondent

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EDWARDSVILLE — A pediatric health fair held on Saturday provided area youngsters with the opportunity to have fun while learning about healthy food choices, dental health, hand washing, bicycle safety and even how to dial 911 from a cellphone.

The event held at the Thomas P. Saxton Pavillion and sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital was a big hit with children, who presenters said were very receptive to information presented in an interactive and positive environment.

“I had a lot of fun spending time with my friends and learning about healthy stuff,” said Maya Guili, 7.

Cassidy Gallagher, 7, and brother Aiden Gallagher, 6, especially enjoyed participating in a presentation of “Flowers Soothe the Bully Beast,” which stressed the importance of accepting others in spite of any differences.

Cynthia Post, who wrote the book, reminded young attendees to focus on “what’s on the inside,” truly getting to know others and valuing them for their uniqueness.

Luzerne County 911 was also on hand to demonstrate the proper way of calling for help from a cellphone.

“Cellphones are a little bit more complicated then a home phone,” said Brian Black, 911 training supervisor. “We get children comfortable with being able to dial out from a cellphone, and then share appropriate information with the operator.”

Black emphasized that parents should encourage children to dial 911 in emergency, being careful to have a positive approach.

Black also provided information regarding the “Smart 911” program, a website which allows area residents to store important emergency information which will be transmitted to a 911 operator when a call goes out from a number provided.

Nutrition experts were on hand to provide literature and healthy snacks. They also encouraged such positive habits as increased physical activity, good sleeping patterns and balanced lifestyles.

Nancy Herman, childcare specialist with the American Heart Association’s “Healthy Way to Grow” program, said it was important to encourage healthy habits from the start of a child’s life.

“Data shows that between the ages of 1 and 4, parents are very influential in their child’s nutritional choices,” Herman said. “We need to be willing to utilize a variety of methods of teaching kids, including role modelling.”

Students from Misericordia University’s nursing program were also on hand to take blood pressures, share first aid tips, teach hands only CPR and discuss bicycle safety.

Assistant Professor Tina Tomkins said the event was well received and a great opportunity for students to stress health and wellness after a rotation at a pediatric unit in an area hospital.

The Osterhout library was also represented with a colorful display representing children’s books encouraging nutrition and health.

Kelly Zellner, behavioral specialist consultant at Community Counseling Services, said the event was a wonderful opportunity to share information about community resources assisting children becoming healthier.

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