Kiwanians help kids start school healthy and happy

Erin Chandler | Oct 21, 2022
A Health and Dental Fair volunteer takes a young girl's blood pressure

For three years, the Kiwanis Club of Freeport in the Bahamas had to cancel its biggest event of the year — first because of Hurricane Dorian, and then the COVID-19 pandemic. When the time came to bring it back, club members knew they wanted it to be, in the words of event chair Linda Rahming, “bigger and better than we ever have pulled it off before.” 

The sea of smiling faces at the 2022 Back-To-School Health and Dental Fair left no question that they had succeeded. Close to 400 children arrived with their families to receive free medical and dental screenings from dedicated doctors, nurses and dentists.  

“The support was there,” says Rahming, who is also the club’s immediate past president. “The members showed up, and then the kids came and supported it, too. But my favorite part was when I saw the dedicated doctors and nurses — they came out there for the whole day, no pay, and they put in the hard work. They took it seriously and gave the kids a proper health and dental check-up.” 

Once their check-ups were complete, kids could head over to the “fun” part of the fair, where bouncy castles, slides, games, face painting and food awaited them.  

Gifts make an impact:  Kiwanis clubs use Children’s Fund grants to change lives.

Three small children jump in a bouncy castle “Sometimes when kids just see they’re going to have to see the doctor or the dentist, that equals anxiety,” Rahming says. “So, we set up the fun areas to give them something to look forward to.”  

Assistant club treasurer Deborah Allen agrees: “We try to make it exciting for the children so that they wouldn’t have that anxious feeling.” She adds that the play equipment also gives kids a chance to get some healthy outdoor exercise.  

Children in the Bahamas need a medical check-up on record to start the new school year, Rahming explains. But the lasting effects of the hurricane and pandemic make it hard for many families to pay for medical care. Since the need for their Health and Dental Fair was greater than ever, the Kiwanis Club of Freeport applied for a Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant to help with the cost of expanding the event.  

Through its Club Grant program, the Children’s Fund supports projects that target the Kiwanis causes of health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development. They identified the Health and Dental Fair as a project that would create a continuum of impact in children’s lives — one that spans their entire childhood and sets them up for a bright future.  

According to Rahming, “once you just put your mind to it and follow through,” applying for a Club Grant is “an easy process, really. And it paid off at the end.” She found that Children’s Fund staff members were eager to answer questions and offer guidance every step of the way.  

“We definitely couldn’t have done it without the Children’s Fund,” Rahming says. 

Corporate partners in the community provided the food and entertainment, and medical professionals from Grand Bahama Health Services and GB Dentistry worked as volunteers. This allowed the club to use some of the grant money to give children backpacks and hygiene kits to take home. The club also gave stipends to assist with back-to-school fees and purchases.  

For Allen, this was the most exciting part of the event. 

“When we came out of the pandemic, a lot of families were impacted by not having a job,” she says, “so giving out little scholarships and vouchers to assist with books and what have you, it benefitted a lot of children in the community.” 

For Rahming, the most fulfilling part of the project was to sit back afterward and appreciate how “weeks of hard work all came together. It just warmed my heart that you had a plan, you had a vision for this event, and then you just see all the puzzle pieces go together.” 

As for the future of the event, Allen promises that it is secure: “We will be doing it again next year.”

Members of the Kiwanis Club of Freeport gather in a group to celebrate a successful Health and Dental Fair


The Kiwanis Children’s Fund amplifies Kiwanians' impact to reach children around the world through the Kiwanis causes of health and nutrition, education and literacy and youth leadership development. Make a gift or learn how your club can apply for a grant to help kids in your community. 


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