Hundreds of people lined the sidewalks in downtown Augusta before 9 a.m. on Sept. 21, all waiting for their chance to get free health screenings, fitness tips and cooking demonstrations from local health experts. The seventh annual Health and Wellness Expo, sponsored by Augusta television station WJBF, connected residents of central Georgia with education and information from more than 40 local health care providers.
Staff from the East Central Health District 6 occupied an entire corner of the Augusta Convention Center, educating residents about their services and programs like WIC, breastfeeding promotion, tuberculosis control, Children First, asthma control, STD services, women’s health and hypertension management.
The staff screened more than 500 people for various health metrics like blood pressure and body mass index, identified several people who qualified for DPH programs and scheduled appointments for some clients to follow up with district health providers.
Tammy Burdeaux, clinical and nursing district director for the East Central district, said the expo is an opportunity to increase awareness on what public health does for the community.
“We feel that it supports our mission to get out where our clients live and play. Over the past three years, we have had a great increase of awareness of our services in the community,” she said. “The event is so popular that several hundred people were waiting in line for the doors to open, and there were still people in line when the event closed.”
Attendees also learned more about Georgia SHAPE, Gov. Deal’s childhood fitness initiative, at the SHAPE exhibit. Sandra Roberts, from DPH Communications, was on hand to guide kids through fun games and give information about the program to parents.
“It was a tremendous hit with attendees both young and old. There were healthy snacks and recipes, fun activities and prizes to promote the importance of healthy eating habits and exercise,” Burdeaux said.
The WJBF Health and Wellness Expo is the largest health and wellness event in the area with an average of 3,500 to 5,000 attendees annually. Helen Johnson, account manager at WJBF and one of the expo’s coordinators, said the event was created in response to a need for health education and information about services in the area.
“Our research shows that next to weather, the second biggest concern people have is their health,” Johnson said. “This event is an opportunity to educate and provide important information for a healthier community.”
For more information about the Health and Wellness Expo, visit WJBF’s website.