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Stress buster: Health fair zooms in on emotional health of parents, children

Published:Sunday | August 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Representatives of St John Ambulance Jamaica carry out a demonstration of how injured individuals are handled and removed from accident scenes, and transported in the safest possible manner to the closest hospital for treatment, during a back-to-school health fair held at the headquarters of the non-governmental organisation in Kingston yesterday. -Gladstone Taylor/ Photographer

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

In addition to free health checks and various screening tests, members of St John Ambulance Jamaica, who hosted a health fair in Kingston yesterday, have included a number of stress-management interventions, which they hope will offer some assistance to children as they approach the new school year.

Alison Binger, CEO of the non-profit organisation, who was speaking with The Sunday Gleaner at the headquarters of St John Ambulance, noted that harsh economic constraints have resulted in many parents and children feeling pressured.

"Of course, we have to include the regular blood pressure checks, along with other medical treatments, but this year, we have tried to include activities that will focus on persons' emotional health because many times, when we check the root of these conditions (high blood pressure, etc.), it boils back to stress," she declared.

TOUGH TIMES

"Parents, in particular, are experiencing some tough times because the cost of living continues to go up, and the country is continuously being asked to brace for tough times. It's not the easiest time for many families, so we have various presenters coming in to speak to parents on how to manage stress, specifically in preparation for the upcoming school year," Binger said.

Other activities that were facilitated at the health fair included foot-care services, heart testing, environment features, presentations on road safety, oral hygiene, first aid and safety stimulation.

Colonel Oral Khan, a member of the board who is also chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, called for more to be done to educate children on basic principles of first aid.

"Fires, among other incidents, are becoming quite popular. We hear of many incidents where parents leave children by themselves and so children become exposed to accidents. Therefore, I believe that it is necessary for children to be knowledgeable about first-aid training, which can prevent some of the fatalities that have been happening," he said.

"Certainly, for this year and beyond, we will be placing a lot more emphasis on prevention, arming our children with knowledge so that they can avoid the injuries, and if something should happen, they will also know what to do," he said.