Yakima Fairview Church Holds Kids’ Health and Safety Expo
At an organizational meeting to discuss the vision and mission of our local church, Moises Ramirez, Yakima Fairview pastor, posed the question, “Why are we here?”
That question challenged me. I spent the afternoon thinking of possible outreach ideas that could benefit the community around our church.
I thought of the recent violent gang activity in our area, the huge spike in adolescent depression during the COVID-19 crisis, the high level of middle school bullying that often leads to suicide and the unhealthy diet many of our children eat.
Could we coordinate a Kids’ Health and Safety Expo to bring awareness to and provide educational materials for these issues? I took the idea to our board. They approved the concept and put a planning team in place to sort out the details.
Early one Sunday morning in August, several volunteers arrived to set up 24 canopies and exhibit tables in our church parking lot. The wind made things difficult — blowing and twisting the canopies while we worked. Finding a creative solution to anchor them, we prayed that God would still the wind as He did so many years ago on the Sea of Galilee. Miraculously, the wind died down during the event and everyone enjoyed the cooler temperatures and gentle breeze.
Although sixty-three children registered for the event, about 150 people attended. They made their way through the booths, listening to presentations on gang violence, stress and anxiety in children, suicide prevention, proper nutrition and exercise, diabetes and free hearing testing. The children played games, made crafts and enjoyed shaved ice from a local vendor.
Of those who registered, 10 requested children’s bible study guides and a kids’ Bible club while others requested health-related classes. Over the three-hour period, more than 3,000 pieces of health and spiritual literature, crafting supplies and reading material were handed out to attendees.
God provided a team of more than 60 volunteers to make this event happen. Many volunteers and presenters requested to participate again next year. Community partners included the Yakima Police Department, Advanced Life Systems Ambulance, Comprehensive Mental Health, Triumph Treatment Centers and Yakima Adventist Christian School. The Yakima Fairview church members provided technical support, security and meals for the workers.
Several parents shared how much they needed this event. After visiting the exercise booth, one parent remarked, “It’s time my children lay aside the technology and play outside!” Later, a father approached a volunteer and thanked her for her cheerful comments to his child. “I haven’t seen her smile like this in a long time,” he said.
We are so thankful we could glorify God through our efforts to serve the community and we pray this is only be the beginning of our interaction with the families who attended the event.