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Published: June, 2006; Vol 3, Num 1

Health Fairs Lead Health Promotion Agenda

The warmer months of summer are a great time to sponsor a health fair.

Each year, the LHSFNA’s Health Promotion Division assists local planners with scores of health fairs around the United States and Canada. Most of these take place in conjunction with local union member events – such as an annual picnic or a Laborers-AGC training center open house. They have also been sponsored by a local union at a regular union meeting or by a signatory employer at a worksite.

Promoting health is the main purpose of a health fair and to accomplish this goal, health fairs strive to reach as wide an audience as possible. It is for this reason that many fairs are planned for times when a large number of Laborers are gathering. Another advantage of such planning is that it allows opportunities to find LIUNA members and their families out together along with extended families and retirees. In addition, conducting a health fair at an open house or summer picnic often means that food, drink, music, raffles and children’s activities will also be included, providing strong support for parents so that they can both relax and take time to check up on their own health.

The health promotion part of the agenda takes two forms: health screenings and health education.

The LHSFNA Health Promotion Division makes the necessary arrangements to ensure that an adequate number of trained medical personnel are at each health fair to conduct several simple health screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Though the tests are mere indicators, the results often identify possible conditions – such as hypertension and diabetes – that should be further investigated by a doctor or other health care provider.

The second part of the health promotion agenda is the distribution of important health information to LIUNA members and their families. One aspect of this is the on-the-spot, individual assessment of the screening that is provided by the testing personnel. They report the individual’s results, suggest what risks may be evident and provide guidance and recommendation for further follow-through.

The other aspect is a wide array of health alerts, brochures, special handouts and display materials that are made available to interested participants. These cover some of the most common and most serious problems faced by Laborers and their families. The dangers of tobacco are always well presented. Skin cancer is another important concern. Often, health aids such as hearing protection, lip balm and sunscreen are distributed.

By conducting screenings and providing this information, health fairs not only help participants become better educated health care consumers, they also help them recognize and deal with potential health concerns before they become serious and costly medical problems as well. Thus, health fairs can help manage and contain the cost of services for LIUNA health and welfare funds.

To assist LIUNA-affiliated organizations in staging health fairs, the Health Promotion Division has published a resource guide called The Healthy Laborer – Health Fairs for LIUNA Members. This 50-page handbook is available through the LHSFNA’s online publications catalogue. For more information about staging a health fair, call the Health Promotion Division at 202-628-5465.