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Fair teaches dangers of tobacco use

October 26, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Children filled yellow bags with pens, healthy snacks and Frisbees as they toured booths Wednesday afternoon during the Harvest Fest Health Fair inside the gymnasium at the Martin Luther King Center.

Health-related organizations from around the county set up booths and handed out information about their services and good health.

"Ew, look at that, look at that!" said one boy as he and his friends looked at a plastic model of a stomach at the Washington County Health Department's booth.

Priscilla Taylor teaches at Head Start and took the children around to all of the booths before their parents picked them up.

"The kids were very attentive. We sent a lot of important information home with the kids," Taylor said.

Health fair organizers estimated that 70 Head Start students attended the fair, and expected parents to tour the fair when they picked up their children.

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According to Paula Ernst at the health department's booth, children were fascinated by "Mr. Dip Lip," a plastic mouth boasting receding gum lines, rotten teeth and inflamed gums.

People in Washington County use tobacco at a slightly higher rate than the rest of the state, and the health department wants to educate children about the dangers of tobacco use, she said.

Wednesday's health fair was the third such event in Hagerstown, said Shawn Stoner of the health department. About 10 organizations participate in the fairs.

"We're all trying to reach the community. We thought it would be better to work as a group," she said. Usually, 40 to 60 people visit the fairs, she said.

Janet Cordell represented the Walnut Street Community Health Center at the health fair. She said that the health fairs are a way to reach targeted areas where people are in need of health care.

She gave the Head Start children toothbrushes and talked to them about dental hygiene.

"We try to serve mostly the downtown area, where they lack physicians," she said.

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