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ChildServ strives to make eating healthy a fun thing to do

While their mother Janelly Gonzalez gets her cholesterol levels checks brothers JoshuArmondo Flores enjoy healthy snacks. | TINA JOHANSSON/FOR SUN-TIMES

While their mother Janelly Gonzalez gets her cholesterol levels checks, brothers Joshua and Armondo Flores enjoy healthy snacks. | TINA JOHANSSON/FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA

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Updated: March 28, 2014 3:29AM

The way to make children eat healthy is to make it fun, according to Sonja Anthony, a supervisor of ChildServ, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve children and their families’ overall health.

At a health fair held by ChildServ on Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Waukegan, Anthony and her team deftly made a banana snowman, a lizard and a cow with strawberries, carrots, oranges, broccoli, chocolate chips and, of course, bananas, by cutting and rearranging the slices.

“If you make it fun to eat healthy, they’ll eat healthy instead of junk food,” she said.

Jacquelina, 3, ate a lizard made from a strawberry while her mother, Esperanza Gutierrez of Waukegan, watched approvingly.

“She likes it,” said the mother who brought along two other young children. The three sat at a little table, enjoying the unusual snacks which also included granola bars and orange juice.

In addition to eating healthy, Charlotte Erickson, coordinator of ChildServ’s healthy-fit program, pointed to the need to integrate physical education and emotional health into the program. The program also aims at educating families about the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

Among other agencies participating in the fair were the Lake County Health Department and the Therapeutic Links of Grayslake, a private practice that offers pediatric therapy.

A booth manned by students from Rosalind Franklin University in North Chicago offered free screening for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

“We are here to help people from the under-served area of the community,” said Steve Fisher, a freshman at the medical school.

Nicole Fields, also a first-year medical student, said she and her fellow student volunteers saw the unmet medical need of the low-income families and wanted to make a difference.

“I’m very happy everything is fine,” said Janelly Gonzalez of Waukegan after undergoing screenings.

She said she last had a physical a year ago and was grateful for the free services offered by the students.

“I want to learn about the community and interact with it,” said Cristina Nguyen, a freshman from Los Angeles, after twice measuring the blood pressure of an elderly man to get a correct reading. The man claimed he had “white fright,” suggesting his blood pressure would jump when he saw a doctor.

“This is a great experience for me,” she said of the community service the students were offering.

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