Most people get excited when they hear or see the word free. But, when it comes to wellness and health activities, free can sometimes be hard to find. The Independence School District and Independence Health Department have taken this into consideration and are teaming up to bring a series of free health expos, the first of which is coming this month, to the community. Everyone is invited to attend and participate in the assortment of services that will be provided. This is not your typical health fair. The hosts and vendors of the health expo are working very hard to make the expos as fun and interactive as possible, while still getting important information across. Several free services and activities will be offered to the community. These include:

• Tdap immunizations • Glucose screenings • BMI assessments • Blood pressure checks • Foot screenings • Postural screenings • Chair massages • Marketplace education/registry/financial assistance • Stress management techniques • Self-defense courses • One-on-one communication with physicians

The purpose of these health expos is to provide valuable services to our community. Another goal is to increase awareness about several health topics through education and prevention methods. The first wellness and health expo is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, November 19, at James Bridger Middle School, 18200 E. M-78 (23rd Street), located off the corner of M-78 and Speck Road in Independence. To make the event even more exciting, there will be entertainment, goodie bags, giveaways, prizes, and a raffle with prizes including iPod Nanos, Kindle Fires, and smoke detectors. If you are unable to attend the first health expo at James Bridger Middle School, two more have been scheduled for next year. The first in 2014 will be from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 8, at Van Horn High School, 1109 S. Arlington Ave., followed by another from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 31, at William Chrisman High School, 1223 N. Noland Road. The free health expos are sponsored by the following organizations: • Gold Sponsors: Centerpoint Medical Center and Truman Medical Centers • Silver Sponsors: CBIZ and Healthstat • Bronze Sponsors: Heartland Podiatry, Lakewood Chiropractic and Nature’s Pantry • Friends of Sponsor: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City

Mark your calendars and come join us for a night of health and wellness!

Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.