Fair provides sobering, fanciful looks at children Displays feature storytelling, AIDS

April 25, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

The serious and the whimsical sides of being children came together yesterday at the annual Children's Fair at Cranberry Mall.

Booths for face-painting and soapbox derby cars were set up alongside those passing out information on a pediatric AIDS support group, vision screening for preschoolers and car-seat safety.

The fair was sponsored by the Carroll County Children's Council, made up of social service, health and educational agencies.

The Carroll Fitness Center's booth advertised the Finksburg club's regular services but also provided space for a newly formed support group for children with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, their families and friends.

"I don't think people realize that . . . [some] children in Carroll County have AIDS," said Debbie Speed, manager and staff nurse for the fitness center.

Pam Wagner, program coordinator at the center, said she learned of the support group through a friend who is involved.

"There needs to be more awareness and education to make people aware of pediatric AIDS, and that they don't have to be afraid," Ms. Wagner said.

The center is sponsoring a fund-raising aerobic marathon May 27 and a bench-press competition sometime in the future, with proceeds to help pay for equipment and other needs for children with AIDS.

Other booths at the mall stressed health and safety, such as a display of vision-testing cards by the Maryland Society to Prevent Blindness and a range of brochures at a table staffed by the Carroll County Department of Health.

Girl Scouts and organizations offering child care, preschool and reading activities also participated.

In the middle of the mall, Carolyn B. Ruckert walked around with a red satin cape and hood, while her daughter Carolyn sat cross-legged on the stage in a scarecrow costume.

In front of the scarecrow were five attentive children listening to her read stories aloud. Both daughter and mother are members of the Literacy Council of Carroll County, a volunteer group that promotes reading.

"What we're trying to get is the idea it's fun to be read to when you're younger, and when you're older, you can read," Mrs. Ruckert said as she took snapshots of her daughter in costume.

"Storybook characters really come alive when you read," she said.

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