Health fair offers teens information

Alexis Sessoms has her sugar checked by a Sampson Community College student during the first Teen Health Fair at Clinton High School.

The number of teen pregnancies are on the rise and local agencies are looking for ways to keep those numbers from increasing, while instilling a healthy lifestyle in the lives of the teenagers around them.

The Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians Task Force and the Sampson County Health Department joined forces and hosted the first annual teen health fair last Thursday night.

“We wanted to offer something that specifically targeted the teenagers of Sampson County,” Luke Smith, health educator for the local health department, said.

In all, close to 20 different vendors set up displays at the health fair, which was held in the gym of Clinton High School. According to Smith, different aspects of teen health were addressed during the fair, such as physical health, mental health, substance abuse, social issues, domestic violence and most importantly, teen pregnancies.

“We want to reach teens with issues that relate to them,” Chick Gancer, chair of the Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians Task Force, said. “According to a recent survey we conducted, the number one issue among teenagers is teen pregnancy.”

Thursday’s event was free and open to the public. All schools in Sampson County were notified of the event and invited to attend.

“We are trying to bring awareness to the community,” Gancer said. “There are a lot of things that involve the community and our teen health issues.”

During the health fair, a survey was provided to the teens asking what information they felt was beneficial during the health fair and what information was missing that could be useful in the future.

“This is our first event of this nature,” Smith noted. “We are hoping to make this an annual event. We were able to offer a good mix of vendors this time and we hope to have even more in the future.”

Smith said the health department does offer services to teenagers on a confidential and free basis.

“We want them to get the help they need without feeling like they don’t have anywhere to go,” Smith said.

The health fair offered two guest speakers, Dr. Venkata Jonnalagadda on cyberbullying and Dr. LaShawn Strayhorn on teen pregnancy.