Free health & wellness event Saturday at REGALA Gym planned for community’s benefit

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

LAPLACE — Health & Human Services director Rhonda Lemons wants to see a healthier St. John the Baptist Parish, united by active lifestyles and early detection as a shield against illness.

Local families are invited to turn out for a Health & Wellness Fair for hands-on demonstrations, free vaccinations, upbeat line dancing and other guided methods to increasing community health.

Free and open to the public, the event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at REGALA Gymnasium at 194 REGALA Park Road in Reserve.

The department of Health & Human Services, Ochsner, Teche Action Clinic, the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office and St. John Office of Fire Services are collaborating to make the educational fair fun for all ages.

“Everything is going to be interactive,” Lemons said. “The providers will be completing demonstrations and teaching versus just handing out information. It’s not just for adults, but for children as well.”

She expects children will be most interested in an Office of Fire Services sponsored obstacle course and a kid’s corner featuring hop ball, hula-hoop and jump rope activities.

Parents will receive information on car seat and seat belt safety and learn to manage stress through guided meditation and diaphragmatic breathing exercises, courtesy of licensed professional counselor Dr. N. Lackings.

According to Lemons, Fire Services officials also offer fire extinguisher lessons for quick action in fiery situations, while Sheriff’s Office representatives introduce attendees to self-defense techniques and classes.

Smoking cessation facilitators from community sponsor Ochsner Health System will be on hand to speak to community members, Lemons said.

Ochsner volunteers will also demonstrate the ankle-brachial index test as a quick, noninvasive way to screen for cardiology concerns such as peripheral artery disease.

Cost-free blood pressure, glucose, body mass index and vision screenings check for undetected complications, Lemons said, while on-site HPV and flu vaccines protect against future health risks.

“This is my second year here and the first health fair I’m participating in, and I’m most excited about the awareness it can bring,” Lemons said.

“If we can teach people to detect early, we can help them get the necessary treatment and reduce risk of illness and all sorts of horrible maladies.”

Trained counselors will be able to provide sexual health counseling and discreet HIV testing during the event, she said.

While exploring booths, attendees can learn safety skills including CPR and carbon dioxide poisoning identifiers.

Health awareness also comes in the form of zumba and line dance exercise, offered at the health fair by independent fitness instructor Nicole Brown.

Healthy snacks will be available to all, according to Lemons, who said the health fair forwards Health & Human Services’ mission to help low income residents reach self-sufficiency with food, transportation and financial assistance.