The teen health fair hosted by the Sampson County Health Department last year played such a vital role in educating local teens, officials are planning to host a third fair next month.
“Last year was the second time Sampson County has ever held an event like this and it was successful,” Luke Smith, health educator with the health department said. “In all, we had about 185 participants last year and we expect more participants this year.”
This year’s fair will be held May 3, at the Bellamy Center, beginning at 9 a.m.
According to Smith, the Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians and Sampson County Health Department wanted to reach out and educate teenagers about issues that relate to them and to bring awareness about resources that are available to teenagers within Sampson County should they ever need them. The teen health fair seemed to be an appropriate and beneficial choice.
“We have seen an increase in attendance the last two years,” Smith said. “The health fair is a great way for us to get information to teenagers who might not otherwise seek or ask about certain topics due to feeling scared or ashamed.”
This year, the health department and Healthy Carolinians have partnered with Clinton City and Sampson County schools to hold the event during a school day as a field trip with bus transportation to the health fair. Organizers thought this would allow more students an opportunity to attend. Students will come in groups and will have approximately 40 minutes to browse and talk with different vendors. Students from grades 8-12 can participate by voluntarily signing-up at their school.
According to Smith, vendors include, but are not limited to, Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians, Sampson County Health Department, Sampson County Department of Social Services, U Care, Inc., Center for Health + Wellness, CommWell Health, Eastpointe, Clinton Police Department and Sampson County Sheriff’s Department.
“Teens will receive an array of accurate information about topics they can relate to such as teen pregnancy prevention, tobacco prevention, substance abuse prevention, teen dating violence, suicide prevention, online safety, social media safety, safe driving, nutrition and physical activity,” Smith added.
The health fair, Smith shared, will offer various information and interactive booths with incentives.
“We want to offer something that specifically targets the teenagers of Sampson County,” Smith said. “We want teens to feel comfortable in asking questions and seeking accurate information. We also want them to know we are here to talk with and help them in any way we can.”
During last year’s health fair, a survey was provided to the teens asking what information they felt was beneficial during the health fair and what information was missing that could be useful in the future. Smith noted that the organizers took that information to help plan for this year’s fair.
Smith said the health department does offer services to teenagers on a confidential and free basis.
“We want them to get the help they need without feeling like they don’t have anywhere to go,” Smith said.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.