- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hundreds of parents with children in tow arrived yesterday at the District of Columbia Developing Families Center in Northeast to learn about free and affordable health care coverage.

The daylong event — the sixth annual D.C. Covering Kids & Families Community Health and Wellness Fair — was sponsored by the D.C. Action for Children and Amerigroup Corporation. The managed health care company focuses on serving people who receive health care benefits through publicly sponsored programs, including Medicaid.

“This event is our opportunity to raise awareness that free and affordable health care coverage [exist] in the District,” said Kim Bell of D.C. Action for Children. She also said the event coincides with the third annual “Covering the Uninsured Week,” a national initiative spearheaded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As children bounded around the multicolored Moon Bounce and had their faces painted by clowns, parents talked with representatives from about 30 agencies and organizations, including the Department of Health, the United Planning Organization, the Department of Human Services, D.C. Healthy Families and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

“Between the District and other community-based organizations, we have done a lot to get people [enrolled] in D.C. Healthy Families or the D.C. Healthcare Alliance,” Ms. Bell said, “but there’s still more than 79,000 people in the District who are uninsured, and many of those 79,000 people are working.”

Ms. Bell said D.C. Action for Children is a nonprofit group established to improve conditions for children, youth and families with an emphasis on child care, children’s health and child welfare. She said the organization believes every child should be able to reach his or her full potential. The group is planning a major even t in August for children preparing to return to school.

As vocalist Kia Calloway belted out songs, some parents paused to eat hot dogs, hamburgers and icy snow cones.

Patricia Jones, a parent who lives in Northeast, said she was impressed with the fair’s location — home to the D.C. Birth Center and the Healthy Babies Project.

“The children love the Moon Bounce, and it’s right here in the neighborhood,” Ms. Jones said. “It’s welcoming, and I can let my children run around and I know that they are safe.”

Charlene Blocker, who also lives in Northeast, said she has attended the Health and Wellness Fair for years and wouldn’t miss it. “I always find it to be helpful,” she said.

Dawn Bartram, a vice presidentwith Amerigroup, said she couldn’t think of a better place to hold such a fair.

“The Healthy Babies Project [is] doing what we believe in,” she said. “This is an educational and fun way to engage folks in the many services available in the District.”

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