Early childhood and family services information, as well as free health assessments, were featured at the second annual Health and Wellness Resource Fair held at the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center on May 27th.

The fair was hosted by Impact Northwest, a local nonprofit social service agency which is housed in the community center on S.E. 62nd Avenue south of Duke Street.

The mission statement of Impact NW was exemplified at the fair: 'To help people achieve and maintain self-sufficiency, and to prevent and alleviate the effects of poverty.' The event was targeted to families participating in Impact NW's Early Childhood and Family Services Department, but was open to everyone in the community.

Jean Custer, who works with Multnomah County Health Department's Early Childhood Caries Prevention Program, was giving free dental screenings and educating parents about healthy dental practices. 'If a child has white spots on the front teeth, that can be a sign of early decay. If we catch it early, it can be stopped or reversed with behavior changes,' explained Custer.

Petra Caruso, head physician at the Woodstock Natural Health Clinic at S.E. 50th and Woodstock Boulevard, provided children with free wellness screenings - a physical exam that included a vision and hearing test.

Becca Russell, an AmeriCorps member at Impact NW and coordinator of the health fair said, 'Our goal is to provide prevention screenings and make follow-up referrals for children and connect their parents with wellness resources in the community.'

Ten nonprofit organizations were present, offering tables of information and representatives to answer questions.

Diana Cain, of Portland Public Schools Head Start, explained that Impact NW's Early Childhood program serves children from birth to age five. When children become eligible for Head Start at age four, Impact works with families to get them enrolled in Head Start for a year before they go into kindergarten.

Describing PPS Head Start's work, Cain said, 'We do outreach, recruitment, enrollment, and connect families with human resources - such as the Healthy Kids Oregon Health Plan program, and the Oregon Food Bank.'

Baby Blues Connection, a nonprofit designed to help pregnant and postpartum women who are suffering depression or anxiety, was also represented at the Brentwood-Darlington Health Fair. In addition, ACTS ('Alliance for Community Traffic Safety') Oregon was on hand with child car seat safety information.

Other nonprofits participating in the fair were Oregon Healthy Kids, Josiah Hill Clinic, Multnomah County Library, Northwest College of Natural Medicine, OSU Food Extension program, and the federal Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

For more information about the ongoing Impact NW social services call 503/988-6000, or visit their Internet website: .

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