By Tia Lynn Ivey
Local families flocked to this year’s Back to School Rally and Community Health Fair this past weekend. Organizers estimated over 500 people attended the event, taking advantage of free health screenings, school supplies, and informational resources distributed during the rally. The event aimed to help families prepare for the new school year by providing school supplies, medical screenings, and overall health information. Donors will distribute back packs, spiral and composition notebooks, color markers, #2 and colored pencils, notebook paper, folders, erasers, glue sticks and more.
“Once again, I appreciate the community being able to come together for one event to not only kick-off the school year right, but to be a support to the families in this county, which is the heart of Family Connection,” said Velde Hardy, Family Connection Coordinator. “We proved once again that this is a city with a big heart.”
“This year’s event was definitely another successful one! We were extremely pleased with the turnout and participation and are glad to play a part in meeting the health and educational needs of our local community,” said Megan Morris, director of development and community relations at Morgan Memorial Hospital. “ While we don’t have all the official data yet, we know that approximately 50 resource partners took part in the event and we estimate that over 500 individuals were in attendance. In addition to obtaining school supplies, watching demonstrations on the importance of wearing seat belts, and gathering information on an abundance of community services, participants also had access to free health screenings including hearing, vision, bone density, glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.”
The Morgan County Family Connection and Morgan Memorial Hospital partnered up in 2008 to create this annual communtiy event, seeking to equip local students with the supplies they need to succeed in school and to provide basic health screenings for families who may otherwise never receive them.
“This is the one major event that brings all sectors of the community together to help the children in our county be prepared to start the school year successfully,” explained Hardy. “This event is vitally important because it has proven to be an effective way to get needed supplies and resource information into the hands of the families who need them most…Unfortunately many families find themselves unable to secure the educational materials necessary for their children. This can be especially true with parents who have multiple children in the school system, young parents and with the grandparents in our community who are raising their grandchildren,” said Hardy.
“The collaboration strengthened the event and combined resources for added efficiency,” said Morris.
Over 50 community partners were present to offer free health screenings, school supplies and a wide variety of information on local resources. Other planned activities for the day included a kickoff celebration with the MCHS cheerleaders and band, a reptile show, helicopter landing, demonstration with the UGA rollover vehicle, and a variety of fun activities.
“We want to ensure that all citizens have access to the resources they need to be successful…whether that be at home, at work, or at school,” said Morris, “While this isn’t something we can accomplish on our own, when we work together with our 55 community partners we make great strides in improving outcomes.”
“Statistics show that Morgan County as a whole ranks fairly well overall in terms of health indicators. However, our Community Health Needs Assessment showed that there are definitely health disparities between various sectors of our local population. By offering free screenings at events such as our Community Health Fair and Back to School Rally we aim to bring resources to those individuals who may not otherwise seek the advice or care of a doctor,” said Morris. “MMH staff is able to offer blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and bone density screenings and we partner with WalMart Vision and Advanced Audiology for hearing and vision tests. Over the years of providing these screenings we have identified numerous individuals who were suffering from serious health concerns such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If we can save the life of just one person by raising their awareness of their health, then all of our efforts have been worth it!”