At the sixth annual Healthier You Expo Sunday, Prince George residents came for the laughs but walked away with armed with information to make them feel good.
First-time health fair attendee Mavis Erickson was drawn to the event by the presence of keynote speaker Dr. Art Hister. Known as Canada's media doctor and author of Dr. Art Hister's Do-It-Yourself Guide to Your Health, Hister is a popular repeat speaker at the Prince George event.
"[Hister] is a good draw for people to come out because they recognize him on Global," said Erickson, who was impressed with the rest of the health fair's offerings. "It's good to check out what available in Prince George that's promoting a healthy lifestyle."
A healthy lifestyle for the whole family and whole community was the impetus behind the annual expo, presented by the Prince George Citizen in partnership with Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond and Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society executive director Baljit Sethi.
"It's very challenging for members of the immigrant community to navigate the health system," said Bond. "Without organizations like [IMSS] putting things like this on for their clients, it would be more difficult."
Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell - whose ministry's immigrant and integration branch provided funding to help IMSS partner in the fair - acknowledged the work Bond, Sethi and Citizen publisher Colleen Sparrow and their teams had put in to the day-long free event.
"This has become a real community tradition in Prince George," he said.
For Karen Cameron, the Family YMCA is a proud member of that tradition for the past three years. For the past two fairs, an instructor has kicked off the day by leading the fair attendees in a Zumba workout.
"It's a good mix of people," said Cameron, communications manager at the Y. She said people who stop to talk to YMCA staff about memberships, childcare or general fitness have questions. "They're genuinely interested in what we're doing."
That interest in overall wellness drew people to the variety of booths and exhibitors that filled the Civic Centre. Prince George Fire Rescue fire fighter Steve Fennell helped man a table to remind people of the importance of fire prevention.
This included having a working smoke detector (with batteries that are changed twice per year), picking up a carbon monoxide detector and prepping your home for fall.
"Any issue that's prevented is a better approach to than having to deal with an emergency," Fennell said.
A late addition to the program may not have seemed outwardly healthy, but was equally important to community wellness.
RCMP Special Const. Davy Greenlees took the main stage in the afternoon to offer Internet safety tips to parents.
"It's about creating an Internet relationship with their kids," he said, "and getting them used to working on the computer together - not letting them roam free."
Greenlees said with laptop computers and web access on cell phones, young people can get online in private without being accustomed to their parents looking over their shoulders.
Incidents such as Internet bullying and sexting can become more likely when adults become complacent with the technology their children have access to.
"[The Internet] is a portal right to their house and their kids," Greenlees added.