When the doors to the 2016 9Health Fair opened at Elizabeth Middle school at 7 a.m. on April 23, around 50 people were lined up just inside the entrance. At the same time, more than 60 medical and non-medical volunteers waited at stations inside the school with medical forms, blood pressure cuffs and needles, lots of needles.
In addition to the standard screening stations staffed for blood draws, body fat skinfold screenings, and diabetes risk assessment and education, practitioners of alternative healing techniques set up shop in the Wellness Room.
It was the second year the health fair in Elizabeth had featured the Wellness Room, which offered participants the opportunity to experience therapeutic massage; try a few yoga moves; and learn about Chi Gong, a form of moving meditation.
“It was a big success last year, and we have even more this year,” said Elizabeth Lions Club president Terry Clayton, the 9Health Fair site leader for Elizabeth.
Sheila Marie Hennessy of Healing Waters in Elizabeth demonstrated her work with BioMats. The heated mats are filled with amethyst and tourmaline and the infrared heat from the mats penetrates into the body to a depth of four inches.
Hennessy uses the mats in tandem with a gentle form of bodywork called Cranial Sacral Therapy that works the bones of the head, spinal column, and sacrum.
“This is not a heating blanket,” Hennessy said. “The light touch of Cranial Sacral Therapy works wonders on the nervous system and helps to settle loopy thoughts.”
According to Hennessy, the technique has its origins in osteopathy and has a great deal of popularity in Europe. The technique has also been used to treat patients with traumatic brain injury.
Vendors in the Wellness Room are allowed to demonstrate, but are forbidden to take information from participants. They may, however, have cards available for people to pick up.
Clayton hopes that next year a medical financial adviser will be available to help people plan for their health needs.
Over the past two years, the fair has provided screenings and health advice to nearly 600 people in the Elizabeth area and for the third year in a row, the Elizabeth Lions Club has sponsored the event.
“The county used to do it, the county health department, but they were being paid,” said Clayton. “When the county stopped paying them to do it, they stopped volunteering, so there was nobody to coordinate.”
Lions Club members form the core of the management team who recruit volunteers and publicize the health fair locally. For Clayton and his team, it was a little more difficult to round up volunteers this year because Castle Rock moved its fair from Friday to Saturday, and many of the volunteers who worked both events could not come to Elizabeth.
According to Clayton, it costs about $1,000 each year to sponsor the health fair, $200 for the school janitorial staff and the rest for promotional material and volunteer meals that each location is responsible for.
Clayton expressed his thanks to volunteers and to the local businesses who support the effort, IREA, Sonic, Outback Liquors, Big R, True Value, and the American Legion Post 82 in Elizabeth, which provided lunches for volunteers.