QUINCY -- More than 150 Quincy Public Schools students learned about health and received free sports physicals Thursday morning at the second annual Medfest at the Quincy Family YMCA.
School buses took youths in kindergarten through fifth grade to the event, which had Special Olympics athletes, health care professionals, coaches and volunteers available to interact with the students.
"There has been so much support shown here today," said Heather Davis, Special Olympics Illinois West Central Area 11 director.
Davis said all the children attending Medfest were in special-education classes, and the event was a way to introduce them to Special Olympics.
"Medfest provides an easy, free and accessible point of entry for Special Olympics athletes in Quincy," Davis said. "Medical clearance is required by Special Olympics, and receiving this physical exam clears athletes to participate in the program if they want to for the next two years. For many athletes, (sports physicals) aren't possible because of time or resources."
Several types of stations were set up around the YMCA for students to visit, and at the end of the event, students were sent back to school with goodie bags filled with samples, snacks, and health and wellness handouts.
"We are very appreciative of this event," Adams Elementary School teacher Mark Schlepphorst said. "The kids can get exposure to health care professionals, learn about healthy lifestyles, and become certified to showcase their athletic talents."
Medfest was beneficial to adults, too. Many of the 15 doctors at the event said Medfest was a great outreach opportunity to expand medical access.
"Kids got their eyes, ears, blood pressure, weight and other things checked out," said Diane Hughes, SIU Center for Family Medicine-Quincy program coordinator. "I know that our physicians enjoyed being accessible to the school, these kids and their families."