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District 218 tradition provides healthy start to school year

Oak Lawn Police Sgt. Jim Pacetti talks with parents Community High School District 218’s health fair.  |  Bob

Oak Lawn Police Sgt. Jim Pacetti talks with parents at Community High School District 218’s health fair. | Bob Rakow~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 9, 2013 1:56PM



Community High School District 218’s annual heath fair was started to ensure students had their physical exams and vaccinations before school started.

That was five years ago. The event has evolved into a back-to-school celebration with an emphasis on student health.

“It’s a kick off to the start of the school year,” said John Hallberg, principal of Richards High School.

The Oak Lawn high school hosted the Aug. 9 health fair, which provided medical services to more than 600 students who attend District 218 schools as well as its feeder districts.

“We’re not turning anyone away,” said Hallberg, who greeted students and their families while offering complimentary tote bags and tickets for a free lunch.

The health fair has grown significantly over the years both in attendance and size.

Several health service agencies, including the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Ingalls Sports Network and representatives from Christ Medical Center were on hand in the Richards cafeteria to discuss their offerings.

The Oak Lawn Police Department also was present to discuss issues pertinent to teens such as drugs and alcohol, gang awareness and driving safety.

Children’s activities and games also were available throughout the four-hour event, while cheerleaders and bands from the district’s three schools performed.

“One of the ideas behind this was to (offer health services) before the school year started,” said Joe Fowler, principal of the Delta and Summit Learning Centers.

In the past, a significant number of students throughout the district could not attend the first day of school because they had not met medical requirements.

But the health fair has given students a convenient and inexpensive way to meet school medical requirements.

Students received physicals for $40 as well as required vaccinations for $10.

Dental exams and vision screenings were free. Other medical services such foot and ankle exams, body fat measurements and blood pressure also were available.

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile offered free physicals to a limited number of students.

Hallberg said approximately 150 students were in line when the health fair opened at noon.

In addition to medical services, students and their families received a free lunch and school supplies.

“We want to make it convenient,” Hallberg said.

He said the reduced cost for the physicals and vaccinations help families, especially those with several children, save money.



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