Freeport High is host of wellness fair


Freeport High School was transformed into a hub of health and wellness on the morning of June 15, when the Elevating Community Wellness Fair paid a visit.

The aim of the event, hosted by Nassau County in partnership with Freeport Public Schools, is to address the community’s health needs and foster a sense of unity and support among residents.

LaDonna Taylor, executive director of Nassau County Office of Youth Services, who also happens to be a Freeport resident, played a pivotal role in organizing the fair.

“We have to focus more on health,” Taylor said. “Health is wealth, right? And making sure that they (residents) can healthcare … if they can’t afford healthcare, that healthcare (is) still available to them.”

The focus on wellness extended to mental health, with representatives from Nassau County Office of Mental Health also in attendance.

Another major partner of the wellness fair was Molloy College, which brought its Mobile Health Clinic to the event.

Taylor said she spoke with Kishore Kuncham, superintendent of Freeport Public Schools, about holding the fair at the high school, and he was excited about the idea.

“I was just telling (the superintendent) about what we were doing, and he said would you like to do it at the school?” Taylor recalled. “Dr. Kuncham asked me to partner with him, and we thought it was a fantastic idea to bring it to the school.”

The fair featured an array of health services, including free screenings for blood pressure and diabetes, acupuncture and mental health support.

Other more alternative health services were available as well, such as Reiki – a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation – and meditation.

Superintendent Kuncham echoed Taylor’s sentiments about the significance of the wellness fair.

“Health is not just about having sicknes or illness,” Kuncham said. “Health is about (the) physical, mental. Definitely a holistic approach is what health is about.

“This fair brings attention to the importance of health and wellness, and we’re grateful for the partnership with Nassau County Youth Services,” he added.

Upwards of 400 people attended the event from the scheduled time of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Families enjoyed various activities, from bounce houses and inflatable games to face painting and balloon art.

One of the fair’s highlights was the presence of numerous vendors and organizations offering their services, and not just physical health institutions; the event was focused on general wellness, including mental and financial as well.

Around 30 Long Island institutions had a presence at the event, including Ridgewood Savings Bank, the Health and Wellness Council of LI, Northwell Health, Nassau University Medical Center, Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital, Mount Sinai South Nassau, and more.

“We had a series of meetings with different organizations that we were familiar with, that we thought would be a benefit, and we planned out the logistics,” said Lashonda Gardenhire, an ESL teacher in Freeport who was volunteering at the event.

Gardenhire said she was particularly excited to see Sky Schools, a notable vendor, in attendance at the fair.

“We partner with them in the district to just help students learn how to manage stress,” she said.

“And so, being able to take that outside of the classroom, outside of workshops, and in this kind of real world environment, continue to bring that to like the broader Nassau County community, I think is really exciting.”

In addition, Long Island Cares Food Pantry was present at the event and gave away 200 bags of groceries to attendees as they left.

The fair also included practical resources like job opportunities from JFK and various local businesses.

“I think (it) is super important, and I think it’s great that we had so many local businesses who came out, who are here… so that it’s not just, ‘oh, school is this one thing, community is this one thing, the county is one thing,’ (when) it really takes a village,” said Gardenhire.