Star Wars will be taking over the Elkin High School track Friday as students from Elkin Elementary and Middle schools and Mountain Park Elementary School attend a child health and safety fair with the movie theme.
In years past, the Surry County Child Protection Team has hosted a children’s parade and event in Dobson to observe and promote awareness for April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, but last year the concept changed and the group took its message on the road, visiting Pilot Mountain.
This year, the event will be held in Elkin, with about 1,000 children from the three schools rotating through more than 20 booths at Elkin High School’s football field and track. The day will begin at 8:15 a.m. with Austin Caviness, a local pastor and former meteorologist, reading the proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month, explained Paige Jackson, guidance counselor at Elkin Elementary School and chairperson for this year’s event.
“We have a health fair every year at Elkin, so when we first started planning the child abuse fair, both groups unknowingly had chosen April 15. We decided to combine it into one big health fair,” said Jackson, who explained vendors will range from local dentists to information on domestic violence.
“Stop Abuse We Must” is the title of the Star Wars-themed event, she said.
To make sure the parents also are getting information at home, Jackson said 1,000 goody bags have been stuffed full of information with resources for them to take home, such as a flyer from the county’s Department of Social Services providing a list of community agencies a parent can reach out to for assistance.
“It’s not just about child abuse,” she said of this year’s event. “We’re trying to take it to a health and safety fair, and that’s our biggest priority is keeping all our children safe. For some that may be them impacted by child abuse. Project Lazarus is doing medicine safety and how medicine looks like candy, and that may impact some.”
Jackson said taking the event to the schools in different communities, rather than having it in Dobson every year, “I think it’s getting more of the students involved. We are able to impact a larger number of students doing it this way.”
Karen Eberdt, coordinator for Project Lazarus in Surry County, helped coordinate the more than 20 vendors who will be set up Friday, seeing kids in two sessions. “The focus is on our community coming together to empower our children with making healthy choices,” she said. “We want vendors there to expose the children to healthy choices as they are growing up.”
Students from Elkin High School will be participating in the event helping usher the younger students from booth to booth as well as leading some of the stations. The children will get about five minutes at each station.
“It is a big effort to bring this to fruition,” Eberdt said.
Stations included this year will be face painting by EHS Art Club, Cooperative Extension, Elkin City Schools speech pathologists, foster care by Surry County DSS, Insight, Jodi Province Counseling, Guardian ad Litem, Partners Behavioral Health, Project Lazarus on medicine safety, EHS Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club with temporary tattoos, NC Healthy Kids, Surry Stop Child Abuse Now with a puppet show, Stone Mountain State Park on animal safety, Surry County Domestic Violence, YVEDDI Head Start with face painting, Surry County Emergency Services, Surry County Health & Nutrition with hand sanitation, Surry County Parks and Recreation with fitness, CC4NC with ring toss, local dentists, Children’s Center of Surry with a photo booth, EHS JROTC with obstacle course, EHS Interact Club with corn hole, Northern Hospital of Surry County and a popcorn and water station.
Jackson said the Child Protection Team was grateful for the sponsorship of PVH which made a donation to be able to provide sub trays for the vendors’ lunch. Also assisting are Speedy Chef with banana pudding, Pepsi with drinks and members of Poplar Springs Baptist Church with homemade desserts.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.