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Health Expo Spectacular to help at-risk teens

By October 30, 2012

Is your child at risk of suicide? Family health depends on the health of all of its members and to help community members deal with family health issues, the Suicide Prevention Education Action Resources (SPEAR) is sponsoring a Health Expo and Awareness Spectacular at the Holiday Inn Express in Town Center, El Dorado Hills, on Saturday, April 30.

SPEAR was founded in 1998 after the suicide of founder/president Vivian Figueira’s 37 year old daughter, Koreen Brigman. The organization helps at-risk 11-18 year olds build self esteem, self worth and a sense of hope and opportunity through performance arts by offering the “Follow Your Dreams” workshop and other free classes

“Koreen loved children and I used to have an academy of performing arts so I started SPEAR,” said Figueira, “Working with these children helped me heal and I know it’s saved some lives as well. Using their hidden talents, teens learn voice projection, personality development, how to write skits, perform comedies and do commercials. Self esteem and confidence zooms and they are too busy for negative thoughts.”

Through weekly classes students also learn about career opportunities, how to present themselves and how to prepare for auditions. They also learn about community resources available to them to help deal with issues in their lives.

Figureira discovered through SPEAR’s 13 years that teens at risk of suicide are from every background and ethnicity. “It’s not just the minorities and low income children at risk, it’s the ones living in Serrano, too.”

Figueira also conducts seminars educating the public about the risks and warning signs of suicide and improving communication between parents and children regarding peers, depression and drug use.

The Health Expo is another way of expanding awareness and will address a wide variety of family health issues in an informal format. Community resources for physical fitness, weight management, dental health, mental health, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and chiropractic care will be available and  representatives from the National Alliance of Mental Illness, the Shingle Springs Community Health Clinic, St. Francis Foster Care, Marshall Hospital, the Crisis Center, Elder Care, Happy Feet and Delta Bedding, among others, will be present for questions.

Free blood pressure screening, hearing tests from Golden Ear and other assessments will be conducted and the Blood Bank bus will be at the site accepting blood donors. Dr. Andrew Mendonsa, psychologist and SPEAR board member,  will be at the expo to answer questions about mental health issues. There is no fee for his services. Mendonsa specializes in working with children, teens, gay ,lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender youth and  college-aged youth.

In addition to the health expo, there will be a classic car show. The Nook Café will offer a healthy foods salad bar for purchase.

“From 11 a.m to 1 p.m. there will be raffles with fabulous prizes,” said Figueira,” and from 2:30 to 3 p.m. there will be a live auction with things like a fur coat, a night at the Sutter Creek Inn and a flight over the Sierra Nevada.” Participants can also purchase tickets for an August drawing of a Thomas Kincaide painting “Main Street Matinee.”

The event is free, but any donations will go to support SPEAR with their scholarship fund and for travel costs and supplies for performances. SPEAR teens give four performances a year, utilizing their new found skills. They will be performing in a fashion/talent show the second week in September.

“Working with these kids and knowing I’m helping them, I’m in Heaven,” said Figuiera.

The Health Expo and Awareness Spectacular will be held 11 a.m to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 at the Holiday Inn Express, 4360 Town Center Drive, El Dorado Hills. For more information visit or call 530-676-2119.


Wendy Schultz

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