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Food, fun and positive values

Health fair, cookout caps off summer youth program

On Friday, kids got to have lunch, see a fire truck and hang out with Batman, Spiderman, Frozen’s Elsa and Poppy from the Trolls movie as part of IMPACT Prevention’s community health fair and cookout at the Riverhills Community Center on Ninth Street in Ironton.

Molly Stevens runs the IMPACT program and is an Ohio-certified prevention specialist.
She said the event was the end of a month of youth empowerment activities at the Ironton  Metropolitan Housing Authority complex.

“Basically, it was a way to bring community members into the building so the kids feel that they are valued by their community,” she said. “We want them to have people to look up to, mentors.”

In the front of the building, members of the Ironton Fire Department were cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers to go along with pasta salad, fruit, desserts and drinks.

In the back room of the building, there were booths with vendors doing health check-ups and offering tips on things like making sure parents knew how to properly buckle a child into a booster seat in the car.

Stevens said that she hopes the month of programs has a positive effect on the area children.

“I hope that they will be pro-social adults and give back to their community,” she said.

Fourteen high schoolers and college students ran the program throughout the month and were on hand to pass out food and generally just be a positive role model.

Leslie Mulkey, of Coal Grove, was plating hot dogs and hamburgers. She has been with the IMPACT program for four summers when she is on break from her classes at Morehead University, where she is studying to become a teacher.

“I love working with these kids,” she said. “I feel like we really do make an impact with these kids.”

And working with the kids has impacted her college career.

“I started working here and I changed my major because I liked working with the kids so much,” she said. “I was going to do occupational therapy, but I decided to become a teacher instead.”