The start of the school year can mean lots of things: new school supplies, new homeroom teachers, even new clothes. For many in Des Moines, however, it’s most importantly a marker for their childrens’ annual health screening, thanks to a program called Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a back-to-school health fair that provides free physicals, dental checks and screenings for local students entering grades K-12.
“Ideally, every family would have a relationship with a family doctor,” says Brianne Sanchez, the event organizer and volunteer coordinator at Jumpstart. “But we know that isn’t always the case. Jumpstart makes sure that every child has access to a healthy start to the school year.”
“You don’t have to be a doctor to volunteer at Jumpstart (although we do have an important role for licensed providers),” says Sanchez. “The majority of our volunteer needs are for hospitality roles: Helping families with registration, making sure the lines are organized and moving smoothly, running supplies and supporting fellow volunteers.”
Jumpstart offers behavioral and mental health screenings, physical check-ups and options for after-school programming. Every attendee receives a free toothbrush, toothpaste and information on how to stay healthy, in addition to a list of community partners who provide school supplies to students in need. Those who qualify can even receive free vaccines.
“Students who face health barriers often struggle with school,” explains Sanchez. “Participation in regular physicals help identify students in need of additional services and attention, and connects families in need with healthcare resources.”
This year’s Jumpstart takes place on July 26th, from 9am – 5pm at East High School in Des Moines. The Jumpstart program is a collaborative effort of Des Moines University faculty, staff and students, the Polk County Health Department, and – of course – volunteers. Want to get involved? Click here to volunteer today!