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Weather doesn’t stop health fair

It was a day of good, clean and – most important – healthy fun for the whole family at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

Even in the face of persistent winter weather, the center’s first “Heart Healthy Day” went on, providing valuable health screenings to the many who came out.

“Why would we cancel?” said SCCA’s Jackie Cherry. “This is a Suffolk community event and the opportunities here are too important to reschedule.”

One of the more popular features of the program included free health risk assessments and cholesterol and blood pressure checks, heel bone density, strength and EKG screenings to monitor heart health. For a $20 fee, Sentara Obici Hospital made a pocket-sized result card with information from an EKG screening and blood pressure check for individuals to carry in the event of an emergency.

“We already had nine people within the first hour,” Sentara’s Elizabeth Fentress said. “It is really a great service we wanted to make available for the community. We’re aiming to promote awareness of people who aren’t aware of possible health problems.”

“I came in for the cholesterol and blood pressure screenings,” said Ron Muse. “I want to make sure I don’t cross those lines in the sand.”

Also available – and popular – were the free H1N1 shots provided by the Virginia Health Department.

“I thought it’d be a good idea to take advantage of the services being offered today,” said Sherry Mulleavey who came in to get her H1N1 shot and blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.

Several vendors – from YMCA Zumba instructors to the Western Tidewater Health Department to For Kids to Mosaic Cafe – brought their resources and knowledge to the center to share with attendees how they can improve their health through exercise, healthy eating and mouth care.

“Everyone has been stopping by,” said Justin Clarke of Mosaic Café, which featured one of its entrees under 400 calories. “We wanted to give an example of our heart healthy menu choices. Foods are often either very calorie heavy or don’t taste good. We wanted to show people there is a middle ground.”

Activities were also available for children while waiting for their parents.

While attendance was not has high as event coordinators would have hoped for due to the dismal weather, they still believe it was an event to build on for next year.

“If this is something the community wants we’ll definitely go back to our vendors, who have all been so supportive, and try to do it again next year,” Cherry said.