Bringing the Ages Together

Published 7:22 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The first day of the 2018-2019 school year in Troup County is less than a month away, and many parents are already looking at their to-do lists in preparation.

Local businesses and organizations plan to help parents and students with that daunting list on Saturday with the Bringing the Ages Together Free Family Festival, which will feature school health screenings, birth certificate vouchers, free food and access to community resources. The festival was organized by The Lois Brown Free Children’s Clinic and will take place at the Oliver Greene Multipurpose Center from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“I believe in festivals because that is a way for these agencies to come out and meet with people face to face and communicate,” said Wanda Jennings, the founder and executive director of the event.

Some of the groups that are expected to attend include Emory at LaGrange, Life South, Wellcare Georgia, Headstart, The First Tee and the Boys & Girls Club of West Georgia. Dr. Torey Harden and members of his clinical team at WellStar Medical Group Pediatrics will also be on hand at the festival to offer free screenings for children.

“Annual health exams are important, and fortunately, they are usually uneventful,” Harden said. “But about 1 percent of the time, your doctor will discover a serious condition, and if your child is in that 1 percent, he or she may be treated more successfully if a health condition is caught at an early stage before it becomes serious.”

Harden stressed the importance of immunizations and talking to doctors about any concerns.

“I like to take a teamwork approach with parents,” he said. “It’s an open line of communication between us. I’m a pretty easy-going guy, and I’m passionate about giving parents the right information they need to protect their children. There’s nothing we can’t work out together.”

Jennings said vouchers for immunizations, which are required for students entering elementary school, at the District 4 Health Department will be provided at the event, and children will be able to use the vouchers on July 22.

Jennings was inspired to create the original community festival in order to help adults in the community. This will be the second year that an event for children will be featured and the first that has occurred prior to the start of a school year.

“When my father passed away and I came back to run the business in 2003, I noticed a lot of people would come to the funeral home and ask me how to help get their bills paid and where they could go to get certain services,” Jennings said. “I decided to start an event that would bring these agencies out and set up and answer questions.”

That decision resulted in a community health fair which has continued with a variety of participants ever since, and became the Alfred Jennings Free Health and Screenings Clinic and free festival. That fair is still planned for October, separate from Saturday’s event.

However, last year, Jennings realized that many parents need help affording immunizations and other paperwork for school registration, and she hoped to help with that as well.

The Bringing the Ages Together Free Festival will take place at 115 East Cannon Street from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.