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Residents Feel Good About Wellness Fair

July 22, 2008
Residents feel good about wellness fair Low-cost screenings offered in Lakewood By Ryan Parker June 26, 2008 Money may be tight due to the times, but people still need to have medical check-ups and receive treatment for illnesses. Photo by KARA K. PEARSON Dental hygenist Genevieve Valdez shows Bethany Lewis, bottom, the proper way to brush as her mom, Julie Bennett, looks on Saturday morning at the Kids in Need of Dentistry (KIND) booth at the Wellness Fair in Lakewood. The Jefferson County school district paired up with KIND, which is offering free dental exams through June. The second annual Foothills Green Wellness Fair was held June 21, at 816 Union St. The Fair included various low-cost or no-cost health screenings for Hepatitis C, blood pressure, kidneys, blood glucose and other concerns. In addition to the screenings, massages, healthcare resources, skin care, healthy eating, and mental health information was offered at more than 20 information booths at the event. The event brought together families from three multi-unit housing complexes in the greater Lakewood area and was intended to aid people who are uninsured or underinsured or living in low- to affordable-income housing. The day started with a one-mile fun run and walk while the booths were opened and readied for people to ask questions and be screened. "This is a wonderful opportunity for several families who may not have access to these medical services and information otherwise," said Kelly Long, test coordinator for The Kidney Trust. She added that her booth could accommodate the testing of 60 people throughout the day and that a kidney screening would cost $50 at a doctor's office. The concern over healthier teeth has been on the rise in the past years, but Genevieve Valdez, RDH for Kids In Need of Dentistry, said that when money is tight, dentistry is the first medical expense families cut. "When a household doesn't have the money, there are not a lot of options, so we are here to take a look at people's teeth and give any information or proper care tips we can," Valdez said. Shina Dizayee, an 11-year-old whose family resides in the housing complex, said that all her sisters had come to the fair for one simple reason. "It's fun and we learn a lot," Dizayee said after finishing the fun run and beginning to visit the various booths. According to Scott Romero, director of volunteers and family services for Rocky Mountain Housing Development Corporation, the residents of the low- to affordable-income housing complex make 40 percent of the median household income for Jefferson County, which he said is $68,000. "We really try and focus on the supportive aspect of housing so once that is not a worry for families any more, they can focus on gaining other skills, such as computer skills," Romero said. He added that 60 percent of the individuals in the complex are single mothers, so it's important that the kids are provided with after school activities in order to avoid trouble. "It's so important that children are surrounded by positive role models and have fun stuff to do to keep them busy and learning," Romero said. The medical condition of Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler played a large role for one of the booths at the wellness fair. "Cutler having diabetes has raised awareness so much and we had a patient who didn't know he had it until he was watching the news and recognized that he had the same feelings that Cutler had listed as ailing him," said Julie Hoffman, a diabetes educator with Exempla. The screening for diabetes only takes a moment for a finger prick. People should be checked for diabetes yearly at a doctor's office, she said. Jefferson Center for Mental Health had a booth at the fair and handed out information. "We are really trying to decrease the stigma that is usually associated with mental health and educate people that there are simple preventions that they can do for themselves," said Jefferson Center representative Jane Harris. The stigma she said was that people with mental health challenges are some how different that those with physical ones. "More people need to understand and know that a lot can be done with mental heath and wellness and that they are not without help," she said. Joyce Alms-Ransford, executive director of Rocky Mountain HDC, said she could not be more pleased with the fair and all the good that would come from it. "These are all good people and even though they may not be able to afford health insurance, that doesn't mean that their families shouldn't have care." Need to Know For more information on the Wellness Fair, call 303-859-9624.