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Children’s Health Carnival held at Northeast Community College

Riley Buckels, 4, Fremont, listens to the heart of her mother, Katie Buckels, with a stethoscope during a Children’s Health Carnival at Northeast Community College. Derek Fryer, of Fremont is holding the other end of the stethoscope. Katie Buckels, a Northeast nursing student, is a member of the Northeast College Student Nurses Association and a co-founder of the carnival. Over 300 children plus their parents attended Saturday’s event in the Lifelong Learning Center.

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Organizers at a recent event at Northeast Community College hope it will become similar to a popular Norfolk health fair, but targeted towards kids. The College’s Student Nurses Association (SNA) held its inaugural Children’s Health Education Carnival over the weekend at the Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus. The free event was open to the public.

The PATCH Health Fair, held annually in Northeast’s Cox Activities Center, provides information, health screenings, interactive activities and exhibits to promote healthy lifestyles among adults.

One of the organizers of the Children’s Health Education Carnival, SNA President Matthew Schneider of West Point, said they want their event to educate the children and their parents of the Norfolk area on the topics of personal health, safety and emergency management in a fun and engaging manner. “We want the carnival to help children discover how easy and fun it can be to lead healthy lives and learn ways to be safe at home, school and on the playground,” he said.

The Children’s Health Carnival was set up just like a carnival one would find at a local county fair. But this carnival features 15 education booths and games that correlate with specific issues such as first aid, physical activity, stranger danger, bike safety, oral care, hygiene, and water safety, among others. Kids received information on the particular activity to take home and review it with their parents.

Children also collected tokens at each stop. After they went through the trail of booths, there was a party zone that included, face painting, healthy snacks, clowns, magic, balloon animals, U-Hop bouncy houses and more. If children got their carnival passport stamped at all 15 booths, they were eligible to win some prizes like bicycles, passes to Norfolk’s AquaVenture Water Park, the Omaha zoo, and giant stuffed animals.

But the student nurses wanted the carnival to be more than just fun and games. It was an opportunity for the kids to help those in need.  “The carnival was also designed to encourage the youth to give of themselves by having them provide free will donations of items like clothing, shoes, food, toys and money that can be donated to the Norfolk Rescue Mission,“ Schneider said. A free will donation was also accepted at the event with those proceeds also directed to the Rescue Mission.

The Elkhorn Valley High School Dance Team from Tilden also performed during the three hour event. In addition to their performance, they taught the children a quick dance routine before kids went on to the next booth.                                                                                                                                                            

Although the event was already in the planning stages last year, Schneider said they applied and were pleased to learn the carnival was one of eight recipients in the 2013 Youth Philanthropy Contest, sponsored by the Philanthropy Council of Northeast Nebraska. As a recipient, the Student Nurses Association received a $1,000 award to help finance the carnival.  The Northeast Community College Foundation served as a mentor to the SNA as part of the contest.

Schneider and Katie Buckels of Fremont, the other co-founder of the carnival, were able to obtain additional corporate sponsorships from Affiliated Foods Midwest, American Red Cross, Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, Culvers, Gobs and Gobbs of Fun, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, Hy-Vee, Jimmy John’s, Northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership, Pizza Hutt, Sonic, Nucor Steel, Richardos, Subway, Three Pillars Media, Target, Walmart and Northeast Community College.

Schneider said the whole goal of the Children’s Health Education Carnival is to better the lives of area children. “Even if the children missed something, the parents were there and maybe they will be able to educate themselves and pass that along to their child,” he said. “I would like to see the carnival grow in the coming years to where it is as common as the PATCH Health Fair.”

Schneider also hopes the event instills a gift of giving.  “I hope parents allowed their children to pick out items to donate to the Norfolk Rescue Mission,” he said. “Maybe they can look at all their toys and realize they don’t need all of them right now and instead give them to someone who could really use them. They can then develop that philanthropy spirit in themselves and support our local Rescue Mission in that way.”

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Children’s Health Carnival held at Northeast Community College