PHOTO STORY: Berrien County Health Department hosts Back to School Bash

NILES — On Monday, one county agency helped Berrien County children get ready to go back to school.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, the Berrien County Health Department hosted a Back to School Bash at the department’s Niles office, 1205 Front St. During the event, students were able to receive their state-required vaccinations as well as the COVID-19 vaccine, if desired. Vision and hearing tests were also available.

“The purpose of this event is to increase childhood immunizations and make sure they have any vision and hearing needs taken care of,” said Brandon Vallee, Berrien County Health Department emergency preparedness coordinator. “it’s all free for the community, so it’s just our way of making sure kids are ready to get back to school.”

The Niles event saw visitors from local law enforcement, first responders and other agencies. The event also featured healthy snacks, activities and giveaways for kids of all ages, as well as information about WIC, parenting education classes, health insurance assistance, and many other programs and services that benefit families in Berrien County.

Vallee said the health department was grateful to all the community partners who attended Monday’s event.

Though this year marks the fifth for the Back to School Bash, it is the first it has been hosted in Niles. Vallee said the health department was excited to host the event in south Berrien County to help all county students be ready for the new school year.

“We want people to know that we are here for the community,” Vallee said. “We just want to put on a smiling face because we are happy to be here with our community partners to ensure that everyone stays healthy — even during a pandemic.”

A second bash will be hosted Monday, Aug. 30 at the Benton Harbor office, 2149 E. Napier Ave. Vallee said any residents who missed the Niles event can attend the Benton Harbor event.

“We want to make sure that kids are going to stay healthy, especially when they are introduced to new kids and new families who they haven’t been introduced to before,” he said. “We want to be sure we are promoting healthy lifestyles and that we are not spreading any communicable diseases that are easily prevented by getting a simple vaccine.”

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