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The fun, the free, the healthy

Everywhere one looked Saturday in the Mineral Area College Field House, the messages were about health.

“Go for a Walk!”

“Schedule My Checkup!”

“Work up a Sweat!”

There were booths where you could check your blood pressure, displays reminding you to eat fruits and vegetables and messages about the importance of exercise. Even the chocolate snacks were “heart healthy” dark chocolate.

Saturday was the annual St. Francois County Community Partnership Health Expo, and the Field House was packed.

“It’s been a steady stream all morning,” said Kathryn Lewis of Parkland Health Center’s diabetic and nutrition counseling services. “It’s been wonderful! This is a great place for families to have fun and get free things!”

The Family Health Expo is an annual event that has been coordinated by the Partnership for several years. Local organizations, businesses and health centers provide health screenings, educational materials and activities.

“It’s been a great fair,” said Lynn Blackwell of the St. Francois County Health Department.

Blackwell monitored the Health Department’s display area during the Saturday morning event. The display tables incorporate all facets of the departments. For example, one section included a baby doll and information on the health value of breastfeeding. Another dealt with healthy eating and exercise. One display focused on dental care.

A physical fitness display in one corner drew a lot of attention. Students at Grandmaster Hans Martial Arts school in Farmington demonstrated their ability to break boards and take down opponents using Tae Kwan Do.

Jessica Stacy sparred with Matt Sheridan and Jeff Schlager. She jumped and spun so quickly, the camera caught only a blur.

“Both of these guys are double my weight,” she said. “I love throwing them!”

This is the third year the Partnership has held the Expo in the spring. Nearly 800 people attended, estimated Al Sullivan, the Partnership’s executive director.

“This is a community service and (free screenings) help a lot of people who are on limited incomes,” Sullivan said. “Last year, our vendors estimated they brought about $36,000 to $38,000 in free services.”

Sullivan said games for children, free snacks, and prizes throughout the day attract families to the Expo, where they can learn about preventive care and healthy living.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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