It’s almost time for the Hmong Resource Fair
By Wua Xiong
Saint Paul, Minn. – The Ninth Hmong Resource Fair offers informational resources free and accessible to the Hmong community and the public this Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Aldrich Arena, 1850 White Bear Avenue North, Maplewood, MN 55109. The event founder and Saint Paul Public School Board Director Kazoua Kong-Thao, said the Hmong Resource Fair focuses on providing resource assistance to members of the Hmong community and to those who work with them.
“This event helps community members connect with a variety of resources that they wouldn’t have exposure to otherwise on a daily basis,” said Kong-Thao. “It also opens doors to many business and organizations to showcase their services alongside similar and different types of organizations. It is a face-to-face social networking for both community members and organizations.”
The event is free and open to the public. Many vendors will be there to help educate about health and nutrition, K-12 and higher education, employment, legal, government services, recycling and much more.
It is also important to note that the Fair is designed to be a community event with fun learning for kids and adults. The kids can meet two of their favorite television characters, Barney and Dora, along with three activities areas with games and prizes, arts and crafts and even making traditional Hmong hats.
Bee Lee, a bilingual outreach coordinator for Saint Paul Public Schools, said the Fair is largely focused on information for families about educational resources and opportunities from kindergarten to adulthood.
“Without the Fair, reaching the hundreds, if not thousands, of families that attend every year would be difficult,” said Lee. “Saint Paul Public Schools is the second largest school district in Minnesota and it has the largest Hmong student population.”
Without the fair there is always a chance that families will not be aware of programs and opportunities that the Saint Paul Public Schools provides for them.
Lee said the Hmong community should be aware of schools with a focus on Hmong language and culture, just as much as knowing all of the district schools are welcoming of Hmong families. This is demonstrated with Hmong outreach in the schools with translated letters and phone messages.
“These are all ways in which we are able to demonstrate to our families that we are the heart of our community,” said Lee.
Lee said the Fair is an opportunity to build upon strong community relationships and that it works because partners are showing they will provide a resource event that is convenient and helpful for the Hmong community.
“Saint Paul Public Schools recognizes that in order for families to feel welcome, we need to reach out to them,” Lee added.
A new vendor this year is Novo Nordisk, a global health care company with an 87-year history of innovation and achievement in diabetes care. Staff will be providing education materials and information about products to treat diabetes.
“We are proud to be a sponsor of the Hmong Resource Fair this year and to bring attention to diabetes in the local community,” said Michelle Lindquist, Novo Nordisk. “In addition, we will have a Certified Diabetes Educator at our booth to help answer questions and give information.”
Diabetes is a concern to every community. However, immigrant and refugee groups such as the Hmong are especially at risk for health education and other special risk factors.
“We are committed to changing diabetes by helping to improve diabetes care through partnerships, research, products and services that make a significant difference for patients, the medical profession and society,” Lindquist added.
Another vendor at the fair is Ramsey County Public Health, Environmental Health. Ramsey County is promoting its our environmental programs, such as recycling and proper disposal of household hazardous waste.
“The Hmong Resource Fair is an excellent way to reach Hmong residents with our messages,” said Kaia Johnson Kemper, Ramsey County.
Ramsey County will have a household hazardous waste collection event at Aldrich Arena the same time as the Hmong Resource Fair on October 2, 2010.
“Participants who visit our booth will have an opportunity to spin the recycling game wheel and win a prize,” Kemper added. “Staff will be able to answer any questions about how to recycle at home or how to properly dispose of hazardous household products like paint, automotive fluids, cleaning products, and lawn and garden chemicals.”
For more details about the Hmong Resource Fair visit online at http://hmongresourcefairmn.org.