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August 6, 2013 > 'Rock the Lot Health Jam': lead-free is the way to be

'Rock the Lot Health Jam': lead-free is the way to be

By Sara Giusti
Photos By Courtesy of Patricia Garcia

Lead poisoning is one of the most dangerous yet preventable illnesses for children. Symptoms largely go undetected until it is too late, resulting in cognitive and physical damage. Thankfully, Alameda County's Healthy Child Initiative is on a mission to prevent and detect lead poisoning in children.

The Healthy Child Initiative, a project under Alameda County's Healthy Homes Department, will launch during "Rock the Lot Health Jam," an upcoming community resource fair that is not only spreading awareness of lead poisoning, but also offering free services to all residents of Alameda County. In partnership with Betty DeForest, Director Emeritus of the South Hayward Parish, "Rock the Lot Health Jam" will offer blood lead testing for children under the age of six, basic medical services, blood pressure checks, and nutrition education. There will also be giveaways, fun children's activities sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, and a chance for people to receive information about many issues from various resources, such as Alameda County health departments, Kaiser Permanente, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, and La Familia Neighborhood Counseling Center.

"The goal of the Healthy Child Initiative is to increase screening by 25 percent of children under six years old for lead poisoning by December 31, 2015," said Manager Patricia Garcia. "Rock the Lot Health Jam" aims to test 200 children for lead poisoning, and educate the community on improving children's health. And the community is coming out in full support: the event is being held in collaboration with Newark Vice-Mayor Ana Apodaca, Alameda County Public Health Department, and Union City's Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, among others. Moreover, Alameda County Board of Supervisors member Richard Valle, Congressman Eric Swalwell's office, Hayward City Council Member Mark Salinas, and Chief Executive Officer David B. Vliet for Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center will be in attendance.

"Lead poisoning is possibly the most insidious types of child sickness. There are virtually no symptoms and the only way to find out if a child is sick is to take them to a doctor and test them. The Healthy Child Initiative is critical and necessary today because Hayward and Hayward Area kids and their families need experts to teach them about the nature of lead poisoning and show them where to go for help," said Council Member Mark Salinas. Although Garcia points out that it is recommended for families to consult their pediatricians for checkups, the Healthy Child Initiative understands that specialized outreach events are needed. For such a silent sickness, there is definitely no harm in getting screened, especially for families that live in older buildings that may contain lead contaminated paint.

No matter where you live in Alameda County, The Healthy Child Initiative welcomes you and your children to come on over and get screened at "Rock the Lot Health Jam." After all, lead-free families are happy families.

Rock the Lot Health Jam
Thursday, Aug 15
3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Westminster Hill Outreach Center
27287 Patrick Ave., Hayward
(510) 567-8253

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