EL CENTRO — Nearly 400 people attended the 10th Annual Baby & Children’s Expo Resource Fair hosted by El Centro Regional Medical Center at its Community Education Center in the Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro on Feb. 1.
“The Expo started about 10 years ago with the purpose of connecting all the agencies that provide services for families, babies and toddlers,” said Rosanna Lugo, hospital marketing and volunteer services director.
There were more than 50 exhibitors. The event offered a one-stop shop on the health and safety of children of all ages. Exhibitors provided health-related demonstrations and information on classes, counseling and care. Attendees were also informed of products and services available for their babies and children–many at no or little cost.
Among those attending was Patricia Mojica, and her children ages 2 and 5, who said she finds the hospital a useful source of information.
“I always bring my kids to the center (Community Education Center) because they have a lot of activities and always something new to learn about. Last year I got the fire alarms for free and I needed new ones,” she said.
The foot traffic made the expo an opportunity for healthcare providers to expand vital outreach and perhaps connect with those they might not otherwise encounter.
“Part of my job includes doing home visits with those who have asthma through a referral process from the El Centro clinic,” said Lourdes Salazar, of the ECRMC Asthma Wellness Program. “We teach the parents how to manage their child’s asthma through medications, techniques and information. We do environmental assessments with parents to determine where they (the child) spend most of their time to see what may be triggering the asthma. Along with a referral process, there is an allergy test.”
Of course along with parents, grandparents and other guardians came energetic children who heartily enjoyed the play areas set up by the El Centro recreation officials. The stations included water safety, reading, dance, music and sensory.
“This program is called Stepping Stones Enrichment Program, which provides two-day camps (Camp Pebble and Camp Rock) allowing the parents to come with their children,” Marissa Hernandez, a recreation leader for the El Centro Community Services Department, said of a city program she was promoting.
“We teach children numbers, colors, art, music and movements, and giving them a little bit of knowledge which prepares the child for kinder and teaches them social skills with other kids,” she added.
Not surprisingly, among the most popular participants was “Cake,” a young white bull terrier with handler Alex Haddad, of Imperial County Behavioral Health Services.
“Cake is part of the PET Project (Positive Engagement Team),” said Haddad. “Cake was taken from the Humane Society and connected to the (PET) training and then we go to clinics for children, adolescents and adults and hang out in the waiting rooms. They (the dogs) are trained to go into these areas to be petted. The goal in the future is to get the dogs in the therapy sessions with the clients.”
ECRMC’s effort to distribute vital health information in an upbeat environment attractive to children and families won rave reviews from some in attendance. “We came to enjoy a day together with family, and it was very nice,” said Veronica Gutierrez, who attended with Juan Cortez and their sons Juan Jetzel, Joshua and Joshiel. “The kids enjoyed their time and the staff were very kind to the people and they gave us lots of information. I wish they could do these more frequently.”
This story is featured in the Feb 06, 2020 e-Edition.