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Thomas Memorial to host Kidoodle Kids’ Day

By Candace Nelson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thomas Memorial Hospital will have its 21st annual Kidoodle Kids' Day this weekend, and hundreds of children will have access to health screenings as well as fun activities.

The event is free to children and their families and will run from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the South Charleston Community Center.

"We are happy to provide this day for the children of our community and to help them learn about forming healthy and safe habits for a lifetime," said Paige Johnson, director of marketing and public relations for Thomas Health System.

Parents can bring their children for free dental, hearing, vision, blood pressure and glucose screenings and obtain information on activities within the community.

The event will feature a jump rope competition, Jupiter Jump, DJ, clown, free food, drinks and more. Educational materials and Thomas Memorial Hospital staff will be on hand to answer questions and to help give away 400 bicycle helmets to the children in attendance.

The annual event has seen as many as 750 kids in the past; Johnson anticipates about 600 children will show up this year.

"Kids must understand about healthy living and know that their healthy life starts now. We encourage kids of all ages to be screened and come have fun," Johnson said. "Bike helmets, bicycles, fruit, hot dogs will all be here this year for the kids."

The event began in 1993 to celebrate Children and Hospitals Week. It started in a conference room that it quickly outgrew, said Sandy Young, the director of Pediatrics/Oncology/Medical-Surgical at Thomas. She has been involved with the event for more than 20 years.

In 1997 the hospital began partnering with local insurance companies to give away bicycle helmets. Since then the hospital has given away more than 8,000 helmets.

"We have had many stories of children having bicycle accidents, and the helmets that they received at our event prevented a serious head injury," Young said.

"For many years, we have partnered with the South Charleston Lions Club to provide vision screenings to children. We have expanded those health screenings to include dental, hearing, speech, scoliosis, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

"Last year's event found elevated blood pressures in many of the children. Our findings coincided with data released around the same time that many of West Virginia's children had high blood pressure.

"This year we are adding cholesterol screens, sleep screens, and Hemoglobin A1C screens."

After 21 years, Young still feels passionate about Kidoodle.

She said she looks forward to "providing children and their families with information that could change their lives for the better.

"Our CEO told me one time, 'You have touched more lives than you will ever know.' If we have prevented a serious illness or injury, or connected a child and his/her family with resources to make their lives better, it is all worth it."

This event is sponsored by The Foundation for the Thomas Memorial and Saint Francis Hospitals. For more information, call 304-766-3707.



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