‘Joining hands’ for kids

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

School won’t be back in session for another month, but the kids who attended the 9th Annual Suffolk Children’s Assistance and Resource Event, the C.A.R.E. Fair, got a jump start on their education.

But instead of long division and irregular verbs, they were taught about first aid and healthy snacks. Rather than the Hundred Years War and the capital of North Korea (Pyongyang, in case anyone was wondering), they learned about sign language and woodworking.


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While most school physical education activities take place in a gym or playground, the CARE Fair allowed kids to jump in a Moonwalk, ride horses, or put on impromptu gymnastics routines.

This year, rather than stage the events a day apart, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department merged National Kids Day and the CARE Fair on Saturday at King’s Fork Middle School. The National Kids Day celebration joined in with singing, dancing and other activities outside, clearly demonstrating its 2004 theme &uot;Joining Hands for Healthy Kids.&uot;

Agencies like Obici Hospital, the American Red Cross, the Suffolk Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Virginia handed out information, and classes on reading and sign language were taught. Obici volunteer Gail Stoker, who teaches a class at the hospital about how to involve older siblings in a new baby’s life, gave a lesson to the young attendees.

&uot;I help them put together a gift bag to welcome their new brother or sister,&uot; said Stoker, watching children put together small crafts for their new additions. &uot;It’s got a bath toy, washcloth, hand sanitizer, things like that. The big thing for parents is to keep the older child involved; they should help them feel like they’re becoming a part of the baby’s life. &uot;They can help the children change diapers, or just bring mom some supplies. They should let the child watch Mom bathe the baby, or help her feed them.&uot;

In another room, kids put together a first aid kit of bandages, gloves and antibiotics, and learned what information they’ll need if forced to call 911.

Lowe’s Home Improvement store donated wood, goggles and tools for children to put together birdhouses, so kids like Elaine Miller, 6, could give her feathered friends a new home.

&uot;There are always a lot of birds in our yard, mainly robins,&uot; said Elaine, a student at Florence Bowser Elementary. &uot;I’m going to paint this house blue, then put it on a big stick outside and wait for the birds.&uot;

Outside, the Suffolk Fire Department, which will be holding a Fire Safety Class next week at the White Marsh Road station, taught kids about fire safety. The course began inside a miniature makeshift house, complete with kitchen and bedroom. In the kitchen, kids learned tips like not turning pot handles out over the floor (a perfect opportunity for a toddler to pull one down), and not stacking things on the back of the stove, so children won’t reach over the stove to reach them.

In the bedroom, kids sat in a circle. Suddenly, the room filled with theatrical smoke from a smoke generator. The children crawled toward the door and felt it to determine if it was safe to open and walk through.

Feeling that it was too warm (doors were artificially heated), the kids crawled as close to the ground as possible and made their way out a nearby window, where firefighters were there to help them out. Once outside, they raced to a meeting point.

&uot;We learned to feel the door with the back of our hands instead of the front,&uot; said Chad Stubenrauch, 8. &uot;When the fire alarm’s beeping, you have to learn to wake up fast.&uot;

Stubenrauch was one of the more than 1,400 children and adults who attended the C.A.R.E. Fair on Saturday, planners report.