By Tom Couser
Modified from the Youth Ministry Archives, 1985.
When a person is in poor health, it is difficult to consider life as a “gift.” Yet, even good Christians are not exempt from obesity, improper diet, tiredness, or other health problems, which come from neglect of our bodies.
The care of our bodies is one of the most important aspects of Christian stewardship (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). One way to encourage this kind of stewardship is for the youth group to sponsor a Health Fair.
The objectives of a health fair should be to provide good information about proper health habits and identification of potential problems
How to Start:
Planning of an event such as a health fair requires concerned people who are willing to donate their time. While a group of teens and their counselors are a good place to begin, it is worthwhile to recruit some additional help. Involve a doctor, if you can. Including a nurse in your planning is absolutely necessary. A nurse can provide many insights and serve as coordinator of nurses needed on the day of the fair. Consider, too, other health professionals, such as dentists, optometrists, paramedics, medical or nursing students, dental hygienists, psychiatrists, or psychologists.
Your local hospital can also help in your planning. Hospitals often sponsor health fairs and may even be able to assist with some leadership.
When the planning group has been established, the next step is to determine what will be involved in the health fair. The amount of available space definitely will have a bearing on who is invited and what kinds of activities are available. However, health fairs should offer a good balance of exhibits, resource material, and testing.
A gym or church social hall works best, although you own situation will determine what works best for you. A health fair should have a minimum of 14 stations, but could be much larger if space allows. A good display area is approximately 10′ x 14′. Exhibits that involve testing will need more room, and some testing areas may require privacy.
Once you have determined how big or small your fair will be, start working through the list below. The local hospital, health department, phone book, and the Internet will be the best source for contact information.
|Possible Test or Exhibit|
|Area I: Nutrition|
|American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org)||Diabetes|
|Federal Drug Administration (www.fda.gov/womens)||Women’s Health and Nutrition|
|University Extension Service or FDA||General Nutrition|
|American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org)||Cholesterol|
|Area 2: Safety|
|American Red Cross (www.redcross.org)||First aid|
|Local poison control center (www.aapcc.org for number)||Poisoning|
|Local fire department||Emergency techniques, CPR, Heimlich, etc.|
|Area 3: Exercise|
|YMCA (www.ymca.net)||Exercise program|
|Local recreation department||Exercise program|
|Local hospital||Stress training|
|American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org)||Stress training|
|Area 4: Alcohol and Drug abuse|
|Local drug council||Drug abuse|
|Local hospital||Alcoholism treatment|
|Alcoholics Anonymous (www.alcoholics-anonymous.org)||Alcoholism treatment|
|Area 5: Lifestyle|
|Lutheran Social Services (contact District office)||Family life|
|Local holistic health center||Physical wellness|
|American Red Cross (www.redcross.org)||Home safety|
|Area 6: Sensory|
|Local blindness prevention center||Sight testing|
|Local association for the hearing impaired||Hearing testing|
This list provides the basics. Also give thought to health problems or successes that are unique to your area. Are there groups that are equipped to provide such information in a responsible and honest manner at your fair?
Make your initial invitation to each organization by phone, then follow up with a letter the specific objectives of the event, the dates, and times. The letter also should give the agencies information about the space that will be available to them and any special services (such as tables, chairs, electrical outlets, water supply) which you can provide.
Give each potential exhibitor an opportunity to specify their needs. (Perhaps you can enclose a post card with your letter that asks if they will participate, who will be coming, and their special needs.) Keep track of each display on a chart.
When the list of participants is complete and their needs are determined, develop a floor plan. The displays and tests can be grouped according to the topics they cover. Keep in mind the test that require privacy. When the floor plan is compete, send a copy to all participants and include some directions to the fair location and a schedule for display set up and take down. It is best to allow about tow hours for both.
Invite the Community:
As with any event, publicity is a key to success. Any publicity should include a brief summary of what a health fair is and what its objectives are. A partial list of participants and the kinds of tests available will help people know what to expect.
The church bulletin, newsletter, and website are good places to start advertising, but you will also need to write articles for the local newspaper and make posters for distribution in the neighborhood. Radio stations will make announcement of events such as health fairs if you send them the information. It is best to get information on the radio stations at least three weeks in advance, and your article should be to the newspaper at least two weeks in advance.
Staffing for the Fair:
Other members of your group will be needed as the health fair draws closer. Health Fairs are a big job and require numerous volunteers to assist with testing, staffing displays, set up and take down, and clean up. People will also be needed to serve refreshments (more on that later).
The week before the fair, hold a meeting of the volunteers. Share the basic floor plan and provide a list of participants. Assign the volunteers to a particular area and give them instructions.
Also use this time to prepare posters and signs for the display area. Each display will need a sign to identify it. You may also need signs to help people to the fair and help them find their way around inside. If your health fair has a title or theme, you may wish to make a banner to hang over the main entrance.
Refreshments are nice additions to a health fair. Avoid the usual coffee and cookies and serve nutritious food: juice and dried fruits and nuts. If there will be a nutritionist at the fair, consult him or her in advance for suggestions. A free-will offering could be gathered to cover costs of refreshments, although the fair itself should be free.
Planning a health fair is a lot of work, but it could be very beneficial for your youth group. A fair provides information that could save someone’s life, teaches the value of healthy living, and communicates to the community that your youth group cares about the people’s health.