Gail Williams’ four-year-old son, A.J., was having some trouble with word pronunciation so she brought him to a screening clinic set up for kindergarten students at Gosford Public School.
The clinic, the first of its kind in the Toronto District School Board, saw 66 of 89 potential junior and senior kindergarten students throughout the day Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Along with seeing a pediatrician, parents could also access information on dental care, healthy eating, speech and language development and vision concerns.
“It’s convenient, it’s right next door,” Williams said of why she brought A.J. to the screening clinic instead of his pediatrician.
“It’s difficult to find a doctor in the neighbourhood. The school is a welcoming environment.”
– Jennifer Hall
Young A.J. is one of the lucky students who has a physician. Dr. Kevin Chan, who ran the screening clinic, said 30 per cent of Gosford pupils are without a pediatrician.
Chan, a pediatrician with The Hospital for Sick Children, volunteers his time once a month to operate a clinic out of the Finch Avenue and York Gate Boulevard school, which is open to students and their siblings for acute care. So it was only fitting Chan was approached to run the kindergarten screening clinic.
“The vast majority of students are healthy, they are just getting a check-up,” he said in between appointments.
Most of the issues focused on heart murmurs, vaccinations, behavioural problems and weight, Chan said.
Sarah Sarpong was one of the parents who brought her child in for a general check-up.
“I think it’s good because it’s close,” she said, while her son, Ashan, 4, flashed a bright smile.
Jennifer Hall, principal of Gosford Public School, said the screening clinic helps to maximize student potential by catching problems early.
“It’s difficult to find a doctor in the neighbourhood,” she said. “The school is a welcoming environment.”
Donna Psaila, a Toronto Public Health nurse assigned to the school, said there is a link between health and learning.
“Health enhances learning, and learning enhances health,” she said. “When you add one, you automatically help the other.”
The screening clinic is the brainchild of Myrna Gabbidon, a former Gosford teacher and Westview Alumni Advocate for Youth member.
“I wondered if there were any screening clinics for kindergarten kids,” she said. “Then I talked to Dr. Chan and he agreed to run it. We had no road map to follow.”
When told of the percentage of students who don’t have a pediatrician, she shook her head.
“If this is a window to what’s happening out there, then we have a lot of work to do, don’t we?” she asked.
Every child who came to the screening clinic took home a Curious George book, courtesy of Gabbidon’s 102-year-old mother, Melda, who lives in Jamaica.