The first day of school is just a few days away and school supplies are not the only items parents need to cross off their back-to-school checklist.

Bakersfield City School District's four wellness centers are encouraging parents to stop by to make sure their children have all their required immunizations before the first day of school and are ready for the upcoming school year.

The first day of school is Aug. 14.

The district has recently opened school wellness centers to promote physical, mental and emotional health. Students enrolled in transitional kindergarten/kindergarten to eighth grade can utilize one of the four wellness centers.

"If they're sick, they can come in here, and if they need any medications, they'll be seen by a nurse practitioner and get the attention they need," said Dulce Mejia, a school social worker. "The first day is busy to try to get everything done that day. If you need physicals, immunizations, any forms, make sure you get that done before the day starts."

Services include physical examinations and wellness exams, immunizations, individual, group and family therapy and grief counseling. Other partners include dental visits and optometrists.

Services are free to parents, whether or not they have health insurance.

One student, Stella Hills Elementary School sixth grader Malachi Diaz, was getting his back-to-school physical out of the way Monday at the Jewett Avenue Wellness Center, the newest one that opened in April. He has utilized the center for different reasons.

"They give me treatments and help me and make me laugh at the same time," he said. "I got an eye exam here and glasses."

His mother, Jessica Diaz, also said they received a referral to Valley Children's Hospital for his asthma. 

Knowing the wellness center is just walking distance from Stella Hills Elementary School puts her mind at ease when he needs medical attention quickly.

"It's very convenient. A lot of times, he'll have asthma attacks at school and I can't get to him quickly so they'll just walk him over here, give him a breathing treatment and bring him back," she said. "My car was broken down one time and he was having a really bad asthma attack and so they gave us a ride to the hospital."

The wellness centers also provide case management services, such as assistance applying to low cost utilities, medical, food stamp or any other type of assistance programs, transportation and linkage to resources.

Since opening their doors, more than 8,000 students have visited the centers, totaling more than 13,000 visits.

Before the first day, Mejia also recommends getting routines ready, such as bedtimes, waking up early and eating breakfast.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

(1) comment

Boris25

Free health checks. so what you are saying is that all of the personnel are donating their time and any items used during the health check were donated and it didn't cost the taxpayers any money? Sure, it didn't, this is a typical everything is free give away. It's free except to the people who are paying taxes to support free anything!

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