SOUTHINGTON -Where can one find a child hula-hooping, her father testing his glucose levels and her grandmother having a mammogram, all alongside a group of dancing pageant queens?
At the Healthy Family FunFest at the Aqua Turf Club, which attracted thousands of visitors Sunday.
The free event is a partnership between the Southington-Cheshire YMCA and Hartford HealthCare, which presented dozens of health experts in a festival atmosphere including physical challenges, games, food and character mascots.
“One of the things that makes this so successful is that, from the youngest of kids all the way up to seniors, everyone can find something here,” said John Myers, executive director of the Southington-Cheshire YMCA. “A lot of families needed to get out of the house on a day like today to escape cabin fever.”
Plantsville resident Emilee Ziolkowski’s two daughters Tess, 5, and Miranda, 7, begged their mother to take them for the fourth straight year.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Ziolkowski said while the girls had their faces painted. “There are lots of free things for the kids to do. They were the ones motivating me to get here on this rainy day.”
Now in its ninth year, the festival featured a children’s area sponsored by the Y featuring an obstacle course, Star Wars-themed challenges, a photo booth and crafts.
Amid the lively atmosphere, Hartford HealthCare physicians offered insight into healthy eating, geriatric medicine, cancer prevention, parenting and other topics centered around mind and body wellness.
Adults had the opportunity to have 15 health screenings, testing balance, vision, and - by far the most popular - blood pressure.
“I’ve had several people tell me this is why they came today,” registered nurse Mitch McGrath said.
By mid-day, she had already screened over 60 visitors.
“Most people walk around with high blood pressure and they don’t even know it,” McGrath added.
A sign reading, “How well do you know your colon?” beckoned families into a giant pink inflatable tunnel, designed to replicate the inner workings of a colon.
They peered up at “irregular polyps” and early signs of colon cancer before strolling out into another row of informational booths.
“Part of our mission is to introduce folks to prevention,” explained Erika Stinson, director of communications and planning for Hartford HealthCare’s Community Network. “Hopefully, while they’re here, people will get their blood pressure checked, get a flu shot, be introduced to rehabilitation, the fitness classes we offer and have cancer screenings.”
Southington resident Kara Emmett and her 4-year-old daughter, Eleanor, took part in as many activities as they could.
“I actually work for Hartford HealthCare,” said Emmett, a nurse practitioner in Plainville. “It’s raining outside and this is something fun for us to do.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, @schmittnbh or firstname.lastname@example.org.