Allen Family Center Health Fair
The Allen Family Center is a part of Mary’s Place, a nonprofit organization that helps families get stable housing, provides emergency resources, afterschool programs, and is a safe place for community gathering and relationship building. Our team consists of six nursing students, who go to Seattle Pacific University, that are taking a Nursing Leadership in Community Engagement practicum course. The goal of this course is to help contribute to our assigned community location by identifying an issue in the population that the agency serves and developing an evidence-based project to help address this concern. When meeting with the Allen Family Center for the first time, it was apparent to the team that the organization lacked the resources and advertising needed to provide proper health education and health care resources to individuals in the community. Allen Family Center staff stated that many community members come in asking for a multitude of health resources or information that they were unable to provide. After hearing from the staff, we decided that a health fair would be the best idea to present as our project. Based on the information provided, we decided our health fair would include resources for dental care, prenatal care, foot care, nutrition, coping skills, and health promotion. In addition to the booths, there were activities for all ages, including: arts and crafts, a raffle, books, and access to their resource room when needed for families.
According to the annual Point-in-Time Count, there are 47% unsheltered and without homes in King County (King County, 2020). Along with the homeless population, there are low-income families, pregnant women, and teenagers in the Mt. Baker area. Other health issues such as obesity and sexually transmitted infections are and continue to be trending up on health rankings and have been impacting the Mt. Baker community (County Rankings, 2022). With these statistics, health problems are more likely to arise in this population. Health issues in unhoused families create more barriers to accessing healthcare, sanitary supplies, and can worsen knowledge deficits. Running a health fair was enthusiastically supported by the supervisors of the Allen Family Center as an intervention that the population would find highly useful.
Activities with Rationale
Health fairs can help address the issues that vulnerable populations face, like those who seek resources at Mary’s place, and provide access to health services and information at the convenience of having it all in one area (Ezeonwu et al., 2014). A health fair is an intervention that greatly impacts the community by giving resources that the population has limited access to and promotes health promotion (Ezeonwu et al., 2014). Each booth topic was chosen based on data provided by the Allen Family Center regarding their specific population, what resources were most important to them, and what would be most helpful.
On May 25th, 2022, our team held the health fair at the Allen Family Center from 2 pm to 5 pm. The stress and coping booth had brochures and flyers providing useful coping skills for both adults and children. The brochure for adults had basic language due to the population in the Mount Baker area, including non-English speakers. The children's brochures contained deep breathing exercises and coping skills suggestions. Adults were given the opportunity to write down their coping skills on coping cards, which also contained mental health resources, which they took home to refer back to later. The dental/oral care booth consisted of goodie bags containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Along with these goodie bags, there were brochures and pamphlets for children and adults that contained information about how to prevent cavities, what foods are healthy for their child’s teeth, and how to practice oral health.
The prenatal care booth provided brochures with a prenatal and newborn screening calendar, a flyer with maternal warning signs and when to seek help, information about the dangers of opioid use while pregnant, and helpful resources for recovery. Many of these flyers were provided in other languages, such as Spanish and Somali. There was also a pregnancy calendar that showed the size of your baby at certain weeks in relation to food. Lastly, this booth provided goodie bags with baby books and art supply kits. The health promotion booth consisted of wellness bags that included masks, two hand sanitizers, cough drops, a tissue bundle, a packet of Emergen-C dietary supplement, and a “get well soon” card. With these supplies, there was a kids activity booklet that focused on teaching children how to cope with COVID-19. Along with the bags, there were pamphlets containing information on health promotion with a focus on the flu and COVID-19, some of which were accessible in Spanish, Oromo, and Amharic.
The nutrition booth provided families with food instability resources on how to properly meal plan on a budget, how to create meals with only canned and dry foods, and how to meal plan during a pandemic. A nutrition coloring activity was provided to the younger children to draw their own fruit. Hand held easy to-go snacks were provided for people to take home, which consisted of goldfish, apple juice, cheese stick, yogurt, granola bars, and water bottles. Finally, the foot care booth consisted of brochures, socks, and a footprint making activity. Both brochures provided focused information directed toward foot care for those with diabetes, and the resources were provided in both English and Spanish. In addition to the resources provided, children were able to make footprints and label them with their current age.
The biggest limitation we faced was the disconnect between the Allen Family Center and the parent organization, Mary’s Place. Allen Family Center only has two full time employees, and limited help from Mary’s Place. Along with this, we faced limited advertising; since we were unable to use the Mary’s Place logo, and they were unable to help us with advertising, we could not reach out to as many individuals. Furthermore, we were unable to predict the number of individuals that would attend. The inability to predict the number of attendees created a small limitation with our planning, because we did not know how many resources to prepare. Lastly, we struggled to receive feedback from the event. Out of the 27 attendees, only three individuals filled out the post attendance survey, impairing our evaluations of the success of the health fair.
When our team first presented the idea of a health fair to the Allen Family Center, the employees mentioned that we will meet their needs if at least one individual attending the fair is seeking out housing resources. That goal was met as two individuals sought out housing resources and Allen Family Center was able to add them to the database to support those efforts. Twenty seven individuals attended the health fair, and out of those individuals 19 were adults and eight were children. In a post attendance survey, attendees reported liking the booths, snacks, resources, and prizes the best. However, attendees wished we would have provided information on youth programs and how to pay medical expenses.
In conclusion, we met both our personal goals as well as the Allen Family Center goals. The Allen Family Center staff was able to network with other employees and form a better connection with the parent organization, Mary’s place. Along with this, the Allen Family Center was able to provide a multitude of resources and help to those in need. Lastly, we were able to disseminate information from every single booth and provide important health resources to families. Our health fair impacted this community, provided health promotion to this vulnerable population, and provided resources to those with limited access.
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. (2022). Washington.
Ezeonwu, M., & Berkowitz, B. (2014). Communitywide health fair: The process and impacts on the community. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 31(2), 118-129. https://doi.org/10.1080/07370016.2014.901092
King County. (2020). News. https://kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/news/release/2020/July/01-homeless-count.aspx
Cariaga, Althea; Kester, Madeleine; Pham, Yen; Shewmaker, Natalie; Sidhu, Reena; and Spencer, Katherine E., "Allen Family Center Health Fair" (2022). Nursing Leadership in Community Engagement Projects. 14.
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