Planning Community Activities
Planning a Health and Enrollment Fair

Updated: 6.1.06

Your coalition may want to hold a health fair to bring together schools, health care providers, hospitals, free clinics, local health departments and other organizations to provide free medical screenings, immunizations and other health-related services for members of the community. During the health fair, you can work to enroll uninsured children and parents, where appropriate, in Medicaid or SCHIP.

First check in with groups and hospitals that regularly sponsor health fairs and find out if they have a health fair scheduled or would be interested in sharing responsibilities to stage one.

The specific goals of the health fair are to:

Enroll eligible uninsured children and adults in public health care coverage programs
Provide medical screenings and health services to those who need them
Provide tips on health and wellness

Potential health fair participants include:

School personnel (if health fair is at a school)
Health care providers (e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.)
Hospitals
Clinics
Community health centers
Local organizations
Uninsured families and children

A health fair should ideally be held at a location convenient for families that can accommodate large groups of people such as a large school, centrally located hospital, community health center or medical facility. To accommodate the schedules of working families and individuals, the health fair should be held on a weekday from approximately 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or on a Saturday.

Depending on the size of the venue and the number of organizations and health care providers participating, a successful health fair might include:

On-site Medicaid and SCHIP enrollment for children and adults
Free immunizations for children and families
Free medical screenings or testing for:

AIDS awareness and prevention
Teen pregnancy prevention
Prenatal care
Diabetes awareness and prevention
Asthma program information
CPR demonstrations and class sign-ups
Exercise information or demonstrations
Free risk factor checklists, preventive care information, information on health-related services available in the community and how to obtain follow-up care
Fun activities for children (e.g., face painting, clowns, etc.)
Food and refreshments

To host a successful health fair, coalition members will need to:

Establish a health fair planning committee
Identify and secure a location accessible to the disabled, equipment deliveries, medical staff and other staff/volunteers
Ensure that a sufficient number and variety of health screenings and related services are available
Promote the event through participating organizations and directly to the public through flier distribution, school newsletters/summer school fliers, community calendar listings, etc.

Engaging the Media in Your Health Fair

Local health fairs provide compelling visuals for Covering Kids & Families stories and offer opportunities for effective feature stories. Offer reporters opportunities to interview families with children enrolled in the programs along with local health care providers. If your health fair is at a school, you may want the school's principal, superintendent or a school board leader to discuss the relevance of health and health care to learning.

Below are tips for engaging the media in your health fair activities. If you are hosting the health fair at a school, be sure to involve your school system's communications director in your media planning.

Promote the event in advance through television, radio, newspaper, community calendars and school communications outlets.
Ask reporters who cover health and metro news to attend.
Alert photo editors to the photo opportunities available.
Explain the range of coverage opportunities to local television producers. These include preview stories on early morning news shows; live reports during noontime newscasts; live reports during "Live at Five" newsmagazine programs; and summation stories during the nightly and evening news. Keep in mind that each of these shows, although broadcast by the same local network, may involve a different producer.
Offer radio reporters opportunities to report live from the event, or offer them sound bites recorded during the event.
Offer to have an on-air television reporter take part in the health screenings offered at the fair in order to demonstrate the value of health care coverage.