23rd Wellness, Safety Fair slated for Saturday at 186th St. School

0
488
ONLINE.jpg

For the past 23 years, the Health, Safety and Family Wellness Fair has been a staple of the Gardena community by offering free immunizations to children ranging in age from infants to 18 years old.

It’s this stability that has kept the fair busy with an average of 60 kids per year who show up to get immunized for TB, Hepatitis B, polio, influenza, measles, and mumps. Children can also receive DTP and rubella vaccines as well as booster shots.

For the past 23 years, the Health, Safety and Family Wellness Fair has been a staple of the Gardena community by offering free immunizations to children ranging in age from infants to 18 years old.

It’s this stability that has kept the fair busy with an average of 60 kids per year who show up to get immunized for TB, Hepatitis B, polio, influenza, measles, and mumps. Children can also receive DTP and rubella vaccines as well as booster shots.

Sponsored in part by the 186th Area Homeowners Association/Neighborhood Watch Group, and the Harbor Gateway South Neighborhood Council, the fair will take place on Saturday, May 30 in the parking lot of 186th Street School from 9 a.m. to 1p.m.

In addition to the immunizations, other activities that will be showcased at the event include a garden plant and flower sale, an art show by the students at 186th Street School, a book sale, and game booths as well as pizza, hot dogs, and other snacks and refreshments.

Bill Tokubo, who is a member of the 186th Street Area Homeowners Association/Neighborhood Watch Group, says that numerous vendors will be on hand to provide additional services to attendees such as dental check-ups with Dr. Smile, cervical health care information provided by Dr. Yates, and crime prevention tips provided by the LAPD.

Tokubo has been organizing the health fair since its inception in 1992 and says that times have changed both in how the fair is conducted and in how many participants the fair sees on a yearly basis.

He said medical agencies used to be able to just come out to the fair and draw blood but as time went on and regulations became tighter, that kind of service now had to be performed in an office or mobile lab where instruments could be sterilized and other sanitary accessories would be readily available for immediate use.

“The medical industry is a lot more careful now in how they do things,” Tokubo said. “Which makes sense. Especially with the way you can pass things from one person to another. It makes sense.”

Other services such as eye exams, which were preformed by the Gardena Elks Lodge and cholesterol checks, sugar/glucose checks, and blood pressure checks, which were performed by Gardena Memorial Hospital, aren’t even offered anymore due to budget restrictions. Tokubo said the money that would have provided those services has dried up.

Currently, the Wellness Fair services around 60 kids with immunization shots during the course of the four-hour event, which the participating medical agencies, such as Partners for Healthy Kids told Tokubo was a good number. However, Tokubo remembers a time around eight years ago when the fair used to attract over 100 kids for vaccine shots.

Tokubo has noticed that every year, it seems that either the crowd is the same or it gets smaller.

“I’m not sure whether families are too busy doing other things or thanks to Obamacare, they have their own insurance and can get the services free from their own insurance or pay the minimal co-pay which is more convenient.”

In the last 23 years , Tokubo figures that more than 1,000 kids have been vaccinated at the fair, something of which he says he is very proud.

Back in 1992, the fair was in response to the growing number of children who needed to enroll in school but who would not be able to get into school until they had their shots.

“We thought of our own children and that it might be a good way to help the school to see if we could provide free immunizations for the kids,” Tokubo said.

From there, the event grew, with Tokubo’s neighborhood watch group getting involved by asking the local police and fire departments to come out and offer services at the fair.

“It just grew from there with people asking their own dentists or their own doctors to come out and set up a booth at the fair or just give out information,” Tokubo said.

One of the benefits of organizing the fair every year has been a strengthening of the bond among neighbors. As a member of a neighborhood watch program, that was important as it pertains to the reduction of crime in the area.

Back in the ‘90s, Tokubo’s neighborhood was plagued by graffiti and other crime issues so that’s how his neighborhood watch program began but it was the fair that helped strengthen the bond among his neighbors and other residents whom he would see regularly at the fair.

“We’re basically a neighborhood watch group,” Tokubo said. “It’s a matter for our neighbors to do something for our community and that was the original notion. We’re trying to help our own neighbors and that what a neighborhood watch program is about. Neighbors helping neighbors.”