THE VILLE – An A. That’s the grade parents say CareSTL earned Saturday with its annual Back to School Health and Wellness Fair.
Staffers handed out everything from book bags to eye exams, burgers and pony rides. A deejay played tunes as children frolicked about enjoying activities and offerings on the lawn of the clinic’s Ville location at 2425 Whittier Street, next to the former Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
The clinic, which will soon build a new headquarters in The Ville, went all out for clients and city school students.
“I like how much thought went into it – I had no idea there would be this much stuff here,” said Fonshelia Boyd, who was able to get her son’s eyesight tested.
Area city school students could also get up to date on immunization shots and receive physicals. Schools supplies such as notebooks and pencils were packed inside book bags. Two barbers provided free haircuts and styles.
“It’s for the children – they are the force of our community,” said barber Mathew Norman, who has been volunteering for the past six years. “I’ve been fed by the community for long, now it’s time for me to give back to the community.”
Parent Andre Rogers described the clinic’s offerings as love.
“It shows that there’s still a lot of love out here,” he said.
Children had multiple choices for fun. There was a petting zoo that included lamas, rabbits, chickens and goats. Or they could choose between riding a pony or a horse. They were also all able to get aboard a train on wheels, taking a trip throughout the fair.
Then there was recess on steroids: giant inflatable offerings included a slide, gladiator ring, tug of war and a bouncy house. A Madden Truck provided big-screen video games. Along with refreshments including water, soda and ice cream were hot dogs and hamburgers that lasted throughout the fair.
“It takes me back to when I was a child because there was always a lot of stuff like this to do,” said parent Azahre Zimbalis.
CareSTL CFO Jason Ware said,”It’s good to see people celebrating kids going back school in a positive way.” He credits clinic board members fair chairs Yvonne Smith and Mary Crumbley with pulling everything together.
“They did all of the booking and scheduling and purchased all of the food,” he said, adding that it took a dedicated staff to pull it all off.
“It was a great turnout. They did their thing, so several kids will have a lot of things that they need,” staffer Ariel Lynch said of the highly anticipated back-to-school and wellness fair.
“You can have a great time in north city – the kids are having a blast,” said 4th Ward Alderman Sam Moore who rode up on his cart after the ward’s monthly meeting.
The clinic recently purchased land, as Moore pointed out, on the southwest corner of Newstead and St. Louis avenues. There, the clinic will relocate its headquarters from the Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Belt Avenue in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.
“It’s good for the neighborhood. We want a good quality of life too, and they deserve these services,” Moore said.