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School’s in Session at Indiana State Fair

| Indianapolis—With the start of school for many of the state’s districts just days away, the “Kindergarten Countdown” celebration this Saturday and Sunday at the Indiana State Fair will help prepare incoming Hoosier kindergarteners for their first day of school.

Kindergarten Countdown, a statewide effort between Indiana University Health and United Way of Central Indiana, enrolled hundreds of at-risk children in kindergarten programs in the spring and sent hundreds more to free camps in the summer. The State Fair celebration is the latest program event to ensure Hoosier children make a successful transition into school this fall.

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m Aug. 6 and 7, children and their parents can practice getting on and off of a real school bus, take part in free vision screenings and oral health activities, learn how to pack healthy lunches and snacks and enter to win giveaways. For children six years and under, the event will feature “Ages and Stages” assessments which will inform parents what basic skills they should be practicing with their child prior to his or her first day. Parents can also receive useful tips to help them and their child through kindergarten, including a list of resources and what to expect.

“Developmental screening is very important because it tells you how kids are doing socially and developmentally. It tells us whether they’re on track for their age and, if they’re not, whether they need extra help,” said Dr. Michele Saysana, director of the hospitalist program at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. “We know the earlier we intervene, it’s more likely children will perform better at things like reading, math skills and social skills.”

IU Health is committed to ensuring today's students are prepared for the demands of a globally-competitive economy. Good education is critical to good health and quality of life, and that the stronger the start for our youngest Hoosiers the better.

“IU Health’s commitment to helping families and children across Indiana has helped hundreds of kindergarteners be ready to learn in 2011,” said Heather Girton, early childhood program manager with United Way of Central Indiana. “One last step in the Kindergarten Countdown program is getting ready for the first day. The upcoming events at the State Fair are a great opportunity for families to put the finishing touches on their school preparations.”

IU Health will also have other family-friendly, healthy activities going on this year in the INShape Indiana SummerFit Plaza at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand Side Lot, including:

**To cover a specific event, please contact Kristofer Karol at 317.446.3379 in advance to confirm exact times and expert availability.**

  • Bicycle helmet fittings and giveaways: Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health will be fitting children ages 6-14 with free bicycle helmets and providing safe riding tips from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 8.
  • Healthy eating tips, cooking demonstrations: Nutrition experts will offer tips, healthy food recipes and cooking demonstrations and samples, including playing tribute to this year’s State Fair theme, “Year of Soybeans,” by offering some soybean-based recipes. Demos take place Aug. 5-14.
  • Eat This? Walk That! Pick up a pocket guide and learn how long it will take you to walk off your favorite State Fair treats.
  • Planting the seed: Pick up free seed packets for fall crops like carrots, lettuce, and collards and get on the right track to better health.
  • Step right up! See if you have the “strength it takes to stay healthy” by trying your hand at an old-fashioned carnival game – the “Hi Striker” bell ringing game.
  • INShape Indiana and IU Health Fair Fit Challenge: Pick up a Fair Fit Challenge map, lace up your sneakers and get fit while visiting various Fair attractions and tracking how many calories you burn between stops. Answer questions at each stop and be entered to win various prizes, including a Nintendo Wii, IMAX tickets and a Whole Foods package. The Fair Fit Challenge map also includes a listing of food vendors with healthier food options.
  • Daily fitness activities: Visitors can participate in free Zumba, yoga and other instructor-led sports and physical activities, courtesy of INShape Indiana


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