Connecting resources

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie
Donaldsonville Head Start parents visit booths at the annual community resource fair, held Feb. 5.

     Each year, immediately following its annual Mardi Gras parade, Donaldsonville Head Start hosts a community resource fair to bridge together area resources with residents who may need them.

     This year’s booths included River Parishes Community College, Ascension Parish Library, Family Serving Families, Southern University AgCenter and Church of God food bank, among others. There were also health and safety related booths including one where patrons could receive free blood pressure, weight and BMI screenings. 

     Parents were also able to receive demonstrations on car seat safety and instruction on seat choice led by Karen Ahmad, RN, CPST. Ahmad, who is the injury prevention nurse at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge visits Donaldsonville Head Start once monthly to advise parents which seat would best meet the needs of their children based on age, weight and height.

     One of the main points that Ahmad sought to emphasize is when  a child belongs in a booster versus when they should still be in a harness seat.

     “Your child should be 40 pounds before they can be in a booster seat,” Ahmad said. “If they are less than four and 40 pounds, they really need to be in a harness seat which gives them a lot more security and protection. Children who are under forty pounds tend to have narrow shoulders, and so a simple booster seat is not going to protect them as well as a harness seat.”

     Louisiana law states that children must weigh at least 40 pounds and be at least four-years-old to use a booster seat. The booster seat must be used until the child is at least age six and 60 pounds, although pediatricians advise parents that children older than age six continue to use the booster seat until they are 4’9”, or the adult lap and shoulder seat belt fit them properly.

     Chamber of Commerce executive director, Juanita Pearley hosted a booth to provide parents with school choice information. While she said the choices are simply between public and private schools, parents being educated on their options is still important.

     Representatives from Capital City Family Health Center advised patrons about available resources for income sensitive, non-insured and insured residents. The facility, which is located on Catalpa St. in Donaldsonville, offers a bevy services including adult medicine, pediatrics, pharmacy, physicals, OB/GYN, screenings, behavioral health, chronic disease management and HIV care.

     Sandra Lawless, who was the event coordinator said the annual event’s purpose is to connect the community.

     “We know that without the community, the family cannot grow, so we try to help make that connection.” Lawless said.