Phil Swing’s Open House hosts Valley’s largest ‘First 5’ health fair

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BRAWLEY — It was not a typical Open House night April 12 at Phil Swing Elementary as the school’s fourth annual Health Fair was set up to provide information for families coming onto campus to see their children’s classrooms.

The health fair is sponsored by First 5, Imperial Valley’s school readiness program, a Valley-wide organization for parents of children ages 0-5 — years considered the most crucial in the development of a child. The program provides access to services families might have a difficult time finding or hearing about.

According to Marcie Morlett, the school readiness program specialist, 29 agencies from around the Valley partner up with First 5 and are available at the health fairs. Those groups include the Burn Institute, Clinicas de Salud, University of California Cal Fresh, and the mobile library, L.A.M.B.S.  Each organization had a booth where they spoke to families about services the groups provide.

“It’s exciting for our parents to see all the resources available to them,” said Phil Swing Principal Liz Casey.

“When I was going to school, this was never part of our open house,” said Noemi Barron. “It’s good that they have it here.”

The Brawley Lions Club also offered free vision screening set up in the school’s computer lab, a service they have provided for a few years.  Clinicas de Salud provided glucose and blood pressure testing for families.

First 5 also sponsored a giveaway of ten free car seats for the first families who brought in their old seat to be checked. Due to a change in California’s car seat law in January, families have to rethink what they own for their youngest children.

“It’s been very successful,” said Dr. Gustavo Galindo, the special programs manager of Imperial Valley First 5. “We ask the school to open up to us and we do the rest. We try to make it fun for the school and fun for the parents.”

In 1998, Proposition 10 was passed and imposed additional tax on cigarettes of 50 cents per pack, as well as additional taxes on other tobacco products. With the revenue from those taxes, the state government created state and county commissions to establish early childhood development and smoking prevention programs. These are known as First 5 agencies.

On average, $2 million is generated and dispersed in the Valley through the First 5 program, which then distributes the funds to the rest of the organizations providing services for children and families.

First 5 Imperial also hosts health fairs at nine other schools in around Imperial Valley, but to date, Phil Swing School’s health fair is the largest one.