MORRIS – When sitting down to a meal at a favorite restaurant, be sure to notice the unique placemats adorning the tables.
Grundy County school children, six lucky winners of the Public Health Week Coloring Contest, created them, said Phylicia Malone, public health nurse at the Grundy County Health Department.
For the first time, the Grundy County Health Department is celebrating National Public Health Week in a huge way, Malone said. To include the entire community in the celebration, the department is offering a variety of events from Monday through Friday
Malone has not yet witnessed a health department effort this encompassing.
“And I’ve been here three years,” Malone said.
For the coloring contest, health department staff judged students in two categories: kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grades. The first-, second- and third-place winners will have their pictures hung in the health department lobby and their creations made into placemats.
“We looked forward to seeing how creative their minds were over spring break,” Malone said.
Restaurants using those placemats are McDonald’s in Channahon, Coal City Restaurant, Gardner Restaurant, 2-FERS Pizza and Pub in Minooka, Grandma’s Pancake House in Minooka, McDonald’s and Ruby’s Burritos in Minooka, Al’s Family Restaurant in Morris, Morris Diner, R-Place Family Eatery in Morris, Sherwood Oaks and Weitz Café, both in Morris.
Participating students came from Grundy County schools. With the teens, however, the health department planned something much different.
From 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Monday, two mental health counselors are scheduled to talk to health and science classes at Morris Community High School about body image and eating disorders. The counselors will return the following day to speak with health and science students in the morning classes, Malone said.
“High school students are at a very impressionable time in their lives,” Malone said. “This is a very much needed topic. We want to dispel any myths and help create healthy habits.”
Also, Monday at 1 p.m. at the Grundy County Health Department Emergency Operation Center, Nancy Maruyama, executive director of education and community outreach for SIDS of Illinois, will discuss sudden infant death and accidental suffocation.
Malone said, “accidental suffocation” does occasionally appear on area death certificates. Although SIDS is not a new topic, as young people grow up and become parents, they should be aware of the syndrome, she said.
“SIDS remains a mystery for lack of education,” Malone said. “This helps put a face on SIDS and try to prevent it from happening.”
From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, mental health counselors will talk about depression and suicide to students at Coal City High School. These topics correlate with the topics these students are now studying, Malone said.
Starting at 2 p.m. that same day, the Grundy County Health Department will present an assembly for students at Gardner South Wilmington High School in Gardner.
A panel of six representatives will talk about six different facets of public health and how these relate to teens.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Health Department will host an open house at 1320 Union St. in Morris. Staff will explain its services so the community can “actually learn what we do at the health department,” Malone said.
In addition, a number of public health related vendors will appear in the lobby of the Grundy County Administration building.
At this time the health department will accept nonperishable food for We Care of Grundy County. The health department’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team also will host a baked sale that day.
Speaking at the open house from 10 a.m to noon and also again from 2 to 4 p.m. is Tracy Welch from the American Red Cross.
Welch will discuss the importance of blood donations, answer questions and sign up people for the April 24 blood drive.
Car safety seat checks will be performed from 1 to 4 p.m. in the parking lot. The Grundy County Sheriff department and the Illinois State Police District 5 are coordinating this program.
From 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Minooka branch of the Three Rivers Public Library, 109 N. Wabena Ave., the public may join an open table discussion about emergency preparedness, mental health and food safety, Malone said.
Then, from 6 to 8 p.m., the community is invited to a heroin workshop in the auditorium at Minooka Community High School – Central Campus at 301 S. Wabena St., Minooka.
Finally, from 11 a.m. to noon, Friday at the Coal City Public Library District, 85 N. Garfield St. in Coal City, representatives will discuss the importance of vaccines, as well as emergency preparedness, mental health and food safety.
For information, call the Grundy County Health Department at 815-941-3400.