An experience for the whole family

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By Kirsten Laskey

It’s not cheap to take the family on an outing. For a family of four, it can cost up to $20 to go to the zoo and another $20 to go to the aquarium. A baseball game can cost up to almost $100 for four family members.

That isn’t counting gas or food and other expenses. It’s enough to make a family want to stay at home and forget the whole thing.

Luckily, the Community Health Council is offering a solution. Its program, the Children’s Festival, offers families a great time at the best price, which is free.

The festival will be held from 10 a.m.-          2 p.m. Saturday at Ashley Pond. Everyone is getting involved.

The police department, fire department and county officials will be there with their cars, engines and trucks. Los Alamos National Bank will serve up free snow cones and the Youth Activity Center will distribute free popcorn.

Children can get their faces painted, create crafts and participate in other activities.

The Family Strengths Network will also be present along with Los Alamos Family Council.

To support businesses, participants are encouraged to bring in a receipt from a local business for a chance to win a prize.

The Children’s Festival was created, said Michelangelo Lobato, Community Health coordinator, to celebrate life in Los Alamos but also to pay tribute to losses experienced during the Cerro Grande Fire. This is its ninth year in operation.

It’s important to have activities such as the Children’s Festival, Lobato said, so families get out and have a good time.

It is equally important for different agencies to collaborate together, he added.

“It’s such a small community so it’s important that we work together for the same goal … you don’t want to duplicate services.” The Community Health Council’s main focus is its yearly health profile.

The profile, Lobato said, compares statistics in Los Alamos with elsewhere in New Mexico. Many local organizations use the profile to write grants.

The council meets the first Thursday of the month at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.

Lobato said many different health-related organizations will report on their operations and what activities they have done.

The council, he added, works to fill in gaps in the health system. Its two big priorities are youth violence and substance abuse.

“We want to make Los Alamos the best place possible,” he said.

The sponsors of the Children’s Festival include the Community Health Council, Department of Health Division and the Los Alamos MainStreet program.