The Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Child Development Department Health Linkages Program is hosting free health fairs and screenings for preschool students from low-income families in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara and Lompoc.
More than 20 different agencies and groups will be collaborating to provide medical information and service, as well as health screenings — including vision, hearing, height and weight, dental screenings and follow-up services. The Health Linkages Program hosts health fairs to provide necessary services to children whose families who do not have access to these resources.
Last year, the true importance of these screenings was discovered when 40 percent of preschoolers participating in the free health fairs were found to have dental decay or to be medically overweight or obese. Georgene Lowe, Health Linkages coordinator at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, said the main goal is to identify youth without insurance early on and then to ensure that these children receive the necessary services.
“We have set up partnerships and gotten funding from different resources to provide case management and follow-up,” Lowe said. “Sometimes, that can mean actually paying for the treatment, if the children don’t qualify for health insurance programs.”
A mass collaboration among several groups — including the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Lions Sight and Hearing, Santa Barbara City College Student Nursing Program, Isla Vista Youth Projects Inc. and several more — have united doctors, nurses, medical assistants and health advocates to provide necessary resources and medical information.
According to Isla Vista Elementary volunteer Shana Yoo, a third-year sociology major, health is one of the biggest factors that affect the educational success of schoolchildren.
“In order for a child to succeed to higher education, they must be strong and healthy prior to anything else,” Yoo said.
According to Yoo, there are also other local services providing resources to nearby low-income residents, “There is a food bank organization [that] goes to schools to educate the parents on nutrition and health for the kids, and [it] gives out lots of free healthy foods, which is something that can always be beneficial.”
Health fairs aim to target children of a young age, when health issues can be detected right away, and upcoming health fairs are scheduled for Oct. 11 at Franklin Community Center in Santa Barbara and Oct. 25 at the Lompoc Unified School District’s Adult Education Center.
For additional information or volunteers who would like to participate, contact Health Linkages Coordinator Georgene Lowe at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, 805-964-4710, ext. 4455.
This article appeared on page 1 in the the Wednesday, October 2, 2013 print edition of the Nexus.