Linda Howell as Nemo and Mary Ann Jung along with a volunteer provide “Hook a Book” for children to receive free books at the recent NAACP Minority Health Fair in 2017. Hook a Book is sponsored by Springfield Altrusa International. Approximately 2000 books are given annually through this program. CONTRIBUTED

Kids will be a focus of this FREE Springfield event offering medical services this weekend

Community members will have access to free medical screenings, teeth cleanings and other health resources at an event on Saturday.

It is the third annual Springfield NAACP Minority Health Fair, for which it has partnered with local healthcare professionals, organizations and companies.

Three dentists and several hygienists will be giving free cleanings, checks and fluoride treatments, thanks to a grant from the American Dental Association and the Give Kids a Smile Program.

The health fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at Fulton Elementary School in Springfield. Teeth cleanings and other dental services through Give Kids a Smile will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon.

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This is the first year Sandy Beedy, a dental hygienist at Springfield’s North Spring Dental, has helped organize the event.

“It’s a wonderful thing that’s being offered,” she said, emphasizing that these services are for anyone in need in the greater Springfield area, regardless of race.

Though the Give Kids a Smile Program has been active in Springfield before, this is the first time the services have been paired with the Minority Health Fair.

Beedy and other organizers hope the partnership will help them reach more kids in need. Last year, just 11 kids received treatment through the program. This year, they’re hoping for more than 20 — maybe even 50, Beedy said — and they have 100 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste ready to give away.

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Free mammograms, prostate checks and other services like blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings will be available. Local donors have contributed items like scales, medicine spoons, blood pressure cuffs and pedometers.

The Second Harvest Food Bank will be offering free meals through its Mobile Pantry Program, and attendees will be eligible for gift card raffles throughout the event.

Organizers have been meeting twice a month for three months — with many more phone calls, emails and impromptu meetings in between — to coordinate everything from setting up tables to determining which medical offices they can refer patients to if complications are found during screenings.

“There are amazing people in this community that are giving their time,” Beedy said of the nurses, doctors and organizers behind the fair. “I just hope people realize that.”

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When deciding what dental services to offer, Beedy said they decided to give brush cleanings so that the event wouldn’t just be a one-time service. Hygienists will be using Saturday’s cleanings to teach kids how to brush properly and explain why taking care of teeth — including baby teeth — is so important.

Clark County ranks among the worst in Ohio for dental health. About 67 percent of Clark County children have a history of tooth decay, according to a recent Ohio study from the Ohio Department of Health.

As a lifelong Springfield resident who has been practicing dental hygiene for over 25 years, Beedy sees a real need for better dental care instruction.

“Dental knowledge in Springfield is very low,” Beedy said. “To get that knowledge to make people understand how important it is to take care of your teeth — it’s huge.”

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