Blue Mountain Health Systems hosted the 23rd annual Children's Health Fair last week at the Lehighton Recreational Center. This year's theme was "holidays."

The program was open to children in grades kindergarten through second grade, and students from five local schools attended.

They were treated to 14 rotating activity stations, which addressed topics like fitness, smoking, hand washing, bullying, and animal safety.

"Since we are a health care institution, one thing we want to do is get the children aware of health and safety information. We want to teach them good habits and have a good time while we're at it," said Mary Lou McGeehan, community education coordinator at Blue Mountain Health System. More than 350 children took part in the fair, spending 10 minutes on each interactive topic.

"We like to have a variety of activities to keep their interest," she added, noting the variety of this year's stations.

At the Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol station, students learned about the effects of tobacco and the common chemicals found in cigarettes, cigarette smoke and tobacco products.

They wrinkled their noses as they learned that cigarettes include ammonia, acetone (an ingredient in nail-polish remover), and tar.

Students also learned myths and facts about cancer, how to cope with family members who have cancer, and ways to help those who have cancer at the Cancer Support Community of the Lehigh Valley's interactive maze station.

The Domestic Violence Service Center taught children that hands are for helping, not hitting. Students learned that bullying is not an acceptable behavior and were given tips to prevent bullying.

Other stations included animal safety (Therapy Dogs, International); self-esteem (Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol); health and safety policies (state Rep. Doyle Heffley's staff); hand washing and germs (Carbon Career & Technical Institute); Halloween safety (Carbon County Safe Kids); sun and water safety (Pennsylvania Department of Health); and plant pollination (Penn State Master Gardeners).

Blue Mountain Health System employees also hosted several lessons, including hand washing and germs (BMHS laboratory); physical fitness and incorporating activity into daily life (BMHS rehabilitation); play safety and hydration (BMHS Black Lung Coalition); and healthy food options (nutritional services).