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Children's fair: Where kids reign supreme

March 16, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

Wind and swirling dust could not keep the community from attending the 23rd annual Children's Fair in El Centro's Bucklin Park on Saturday.

The fair is sponsored by the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Imperial County and the Imperial County Office of Education.

Yvette Garcia, executive director of the CAPC, said the fair is intended to be a fun-filled day for families at the park with the support of the community, and to establish a link between families and community.

Added Peggy Calvin, CAPC president: "Our motto is it's not easy being a parent."

Calvin said the more trouble in which parents find themselves, the more they need the support of the community and the services available.

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"We're here to help people make connections," she said.

Frank Rodriguez, CAPC vice president, said CAPC was formed to ensure needed services such as medical exams and forensic interviews could be provided locally so people do not have to go outside the county.

Rodriguez said the message he'd like people to take with them from the fair is "it's a fun day in the park." He said the Children's Fair is especially important for those who could not afford to attend the recent California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta in Imperial. He added Saturday's fair allowed parents to see what kind of services are available and that the fair has become a generational event.

His daughter, Savanna Rodriguez, 13, agreed. She said she was there for the boys.

Added her friend, Kayla Goldner, also 13: "It's all about the boys."

Kayla Lancaster, also 13, chimed in: "The boys, and you get to hang out with your friends."

The three are students at Wilson Junior High School, and they agreed another reason to attend the fair was that it was free.

"It's all about the food, the boys, your friends and we got in for free," said Kayla Goldner.

Some people were not aware that the fair was sponsored by the Child Abuse Prevention Council, and were there just for the fun.

Jackie Pitpit of El Centro attended with her 5-year-old son, Ernesto Martinez, and a friend of his.

Pitpit said she was there so the boys could have a day for themselves, see what the community has to offer and to get their hair dyed green.

Ernesto said the fair was great and he likes his hair green.

On a more serious note, CAPC's Garcia said last year there were about 2,300 suspected cases of child abuse or neglect reported to county Child Protective Services. She said 78 percent of those who abuse children are the parents.

To counter the problem CAPC offers a number of classes for parents. The classes are held throughout the county, day and night in English and Spanish. Classes typically last eight weeks.

Sue Tally, representing the Office of Education, said despite it being a one-day event, it is important to let parents know what kind of services are available.

The event is largely organized by the Office of Education, with a cost of about $10,000.

Tally said all of the work is done by volunteers.

Some of the organizations that participated included the county Department of Social Services, Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program, the El Centro Police Department and Fire Department, the California Highway Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo Inc., the Girl Scouts, and the El Centro Regional Medical Center, among others.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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