Fresh Air Fair to help families have safe spring

Activities, freebies for children part of the growing annual event.

Warmer temperatures and sunny days bring more people outdoors, including children who are ready to play in the fresh air. But with warm weather fun also comes several safety risks.

To help families prepare for a fun and safe spring, McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital and the Coalition for a Healthy Community – Oxford will host its annual Fresh Air Fair.

As many as 40 local organizations are expected to participate in the April 25 event that offers activities and freebies for children from preschool to middle school, as well as information about local programs and safety tips — from bike safety to cyberbullying awareness.

Sharon Klein, the Director of Community and Employee Wellness at McCullough-Hyde, said the hospital and coalition have been working toward a Thriving Communities effort. That program seeks to promote healthy activities and keeping active for area residents.

“Kids will get a hula hoop or a jump rope,” she said, pointing toward two bundles of hula hoops in a corner of her office. “We have boxes and boxes of hula hoops.”

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Also nearby was a waist-high box — one of seven that was full of bicycle helmets.

“We will have free bicycle helmets to promote bike safety. The police department will set up a safety course to teach kids (bicycle) safety,” Klein said.

Bicycle helmets are being provided by Dayton Children’s Hospital for free.

“That’s huge. We gave out 200-plus helmets last year,” Klein said.

The forerunner to the event was a Youth Health and Safety Day held Uptown for three years and sponsored by the hospital.

“The whole hospital helped, but now it has grown to include the whole community,” Klein said.

The Fresh Air Fair followed that five years ago with the coalition and hospital teaming up. It started at the Uptown park but moved to the high school when organizers became convinced a back-up plan was needed after high winds one year prevented them from using tents set up for exhibitors.

Organizers decided to host this year’s event in conjunction with the Oxford Kiwanis Club’s Pancake Day because both events draw large numbers of residents, and the high school space provides an indoor area in case of bad weather.

“It’s held rain or shine,” Klein said. “The last few years, it has grown by leaps and bounds. We have more than doubled since we started.”

Among the other participants at the event will be the First Tee program, WIC, Oxford Community Choice Pantry, Family Resource Center and Lane Library. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Butler County will provide children with balloon sculptures, and there will also be face painting.

“It is really meant for families with kids,” Klein said. “There are a wide variety of things for kids to do.”

Oxford Pediatrics will be there to give parents cyber and social media safety tips.

A highlight for attendees of all ages, however, will be a visit by a medical helicopter, which children will be allowed to sit in.

The Oxford Fire Department will bring its Smoke House, which is designed to teach children how to safely escape a burning house.

Also, that day, the police department will accept unused prescription medicines for proper disposal. Residents can drive up to the drop-off point and dispose of the medications without having to leave their vehicle. Last year, police said they accepted 127 prescription items during Fresh Air Fair.

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