Local Carnival of Learning will focus on health issues

At least 15 health- and fitness-related workshops herald the Carnival of Learning's return to Central Point.

The long-running event, sponsored by Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center's 4-H and Family Community Education programs, is back for a 24th year after its unexpected postponement in 2007. More than 75 workshops on diverse subjects are open Saturday to children in fourth grade or older and all adults.

"It is definitely a smattering of topics," said Anne Manlove, extension agent for 4-H and youth development. "Families can do it together."

The Extension's homemakers group originally conceived the Carnival of Learning to comprise topics more interesting to women, Manlove said. Over the past 15 years, workshops around health have gained popularity, she added.

"A lot of those people don't want to do crafty things anymore," Manlove said.

The carnival's official registration deadline was Friday, but late and walk-in registration will be accepted. However, many hands-on classes already are full, Manlove said. Between 250 and 300 people typically attend the event held at Scenic Middle School.

New this year is "Medication Jeopardy," a three-hour workshop designed to help seniors understand and safely administer their prescription drugs. Sharon Johnson, Oregon State University assistant professor of family and community development, started teaching the class five years ago to serve the large number of seniors in the area.

"People take so many medications now," Johnson said, adding that the average is 13 to 14 prescriptions.

"Some of these questions are life-saving."

Typically offered 15 to 20 times per year at various locations around the community, the class is taught in concert with an OSU pharmacy intern. At the carnival, "brown-bag evaluations" will be conducted by the pharmacist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City.

The class begins with a 45-minute introduction and a questionnaire intended to identify participants' risk factors. As individual consultations with the pharmacist begin, Johnson will delve into questions around herbs and supplements.

"It's just a chance sometimes to ask common-sense questions," Johnson said.

Common sense characterizes Sandi Thompson's two workshops, titled "Natural Living" and "Being Healthy by Being Organized." Thompson's workshops, like many others for which sponsors approved proposals, stems from personal passions rather than professional experience.

Thompson's knowledge comes from being a 37-year-old mother of five living rurally near Shady Cove. Her first workshop two years ago on the topic of natural cleaning methods got a "huge response," Thompson said, prompting her to expand this year's focus to natural first aid and healthy eating.

"I don't have the 24-hour convenience," Thompson said. "So running into the doctor isn't an option all the time."

For pink eye, Thompson applies a compress of steeped chamomile tea bags. Many such home remedies came by way of her family's pediatrician, Thompson said.

A 4-H Club leader and member of the group's board, Thompson said she became motivated to cultivate a healthy home when her fourth daughter developed serious illnesses, including food allergies. To keep track of doctor's appointments, Thompson was forced to become more organized, which has since extended to just about every other area of her life.

"I was having my own health issues of clenching my fists in my sleep," Thompson said.

"Anyone can utilize basic organization skills."

Thompson maps out each hour of the day, sometimes months in advance to incorporate her children's favorite activities and events. Color-coding items on a calendar is particularly helpful, she said.

Other Carnival of Learning workshops include preparing healthy snacks, t'ai chi, tae kwon do, self-defense for women, safety on the streets and in schools and past-and-present views of nutrition. An array of handicrafts, art and cooking classes also are offered.

"Most of the things you're not going to learn in an hour and a half," Manlove said. "It is a chance to experiment and dabble."

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