Our Village health fair is Saturday

OKEECHOBEE — Our Village Okeechobee will hold a health and wellness fair on Saturday, Oct. 5. The plan is for everyone to come out and have a good time together. The vendors will get a chance to pitch their products and sell, which they don’t usually get to do at health expos, said founder Leah Suarez. It’s just kind of an avenue for people who have a different product or do yoga or have a gym,” she said. They will also have social service agencies like someone from the census and East Coast Migrant, Florida Community Health Centers. But they wanted to include some different people you don’t normally see. It will be an eclectic mix of folks, and it’s not all healthy, she said. Part of wellness involves keeping yourself happy, she explained.

The Okeechobee High School drama club will be selling drinks and candy to raise funds for the group. Mrs. Suarez asked the End the Hunger group first, but they were unable to come, and she wanted to give a good cause an opportunity to do it. “It’s nice to have this piece of property where it is so we can invite people out for a fun day,” she said. “We will have some little games and face painting. That won’t be intended to make whoever is doing it a fortune. It’s just a little bit so they can raise money for their cause or program, and it will be fun. We will have corn hole and a couple other outdoor yard activities.”

Our Village just got a grant from Innovative Worthy Projects Foundation because they are starting a story walk. A story walk is where you deconstruct books and then you put them in signs or some type of frame, and you tell the story as you walk the path. You can have activities between each page. It’s a way to promote literacy, physical activity and family engagement, she said. Their intention is to have the first one be portable so they can take it into schools, daycares, city hall, the park or even in their yard at Our Village. Once they get the signs, they can change out the stories as often as they want to. She has even thought about putting them down Park Street in the store fronts and then have a family walk through. Maybe each business would host something fun for kids to do. “That’s just my vision, obviously,” she said. “But it sure would be cool. We want to do things that bring education and health awareness, but you don’t always have to follow a script to do that.”

We need to work on our physical health, but our mental health is important, too, she explained. Another issue here is that it is difficult for families to find things to do that are low cost or free, so she wanted to be sure the health fair would be affordable.

The grant also funded sports equipment they can use outside and lots of arts and craft material. It put a lot of tools in their hands to enable them to help kids, she said.

Oct. 26 is “Make a Difference” Day, and they are partnering with some local churches and going out in teams to do some projects around town that morning.

They are planning to turn the house into a gingerbread house for Christmas. They didn’t want to take anything away from Santa in the park so they decided Thursday night, Dec. 12, will be an invitation-only party with Santa. The invitations will be given out only by referral. They will be working with social service organizations. The family will be able to come in and get a family picture taken, get a picture with Santa and each leave with something, even if it’s just something from the Dollar Tree. They aren’t trying to interrupt the work Toys for Tots is doing. They don’t want families to feel they have to pick and choose. This is more about spending quality time with your family.

Then on Dec. 13 and 14, Christ Fellowship has agreed to do a living nativity. Nothing crazy or fancy, she said, just a living nativity which we haven’t had in town in a long time.

If things go well at the health fair on the Oct. 5, she plans to open it up to some crafters. But, she wants the type of crafters who will make things kids can come and buy for Christmas gifts for their family for very little money. “I would like to see them be able to buy all the gifts they need for $10. It’s real important to me,” she said. “I don’t want people who sell $100 pieces of jewelry.”

She said everyone is going to show up on Saturday morning and pitch their little tents, and then they are just going to have fun. “If you want to do yoga in the center, do yoga. Just come.”

Our Village Okeechobee is located at 1703 Southwest Second Avenue one block south of Dominoes Pizza.

The health fair begins at 8 a.m. and wraps up at about 1 p.m.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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