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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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Local communityto celebratebinational health

By Michelle Ma

Triplicate staff writer

SMITH RIVER — The community can learn about oral health, immigration rights and healthy food choices this weekend during Del Norte County's third-annual celebration of Binational Health Week.

There will even be salsa and merengue dance lessons available for those who want to learn.

This weekend's workshops and health fair celebrate the end of Binational Health Week, which seeks to improve the health of immigrants and migrants of Mexican and Latin American origin. The celebration, now in its seventh year, was started by the Health Initiative of the Americas through the University of California.

Participation has spread to 35 states and other countries, including Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.

Locally, Open Door Community Health Centers—a group of clinics in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, including one in Crescent City and a smaller satellite in Smith River—will host the weekend events, along with support from other local agencies.

Saturday afternoon will feature more than 10 health-related workshops, followed by an evening talent show. A health fair with nearly 20 booths will take place Sunday afternoon.

"This year is going to be great," said Hilda Yepes Contreras, event coordinator for Del Norte County and clinic manager at Del Norte Community Health Center.

This year's two-day event is by far the largest yet, Yepes Contreras said. All events will be held in both English and Spanish.

"It's really nice to start getting people to start talking about the problems they are having so they can better cope with themselves and their families," she said.

A large number of migrant workers, including many Hispanics and Latinos, live and work in Brookings and Smith River. From her work at the clinic, Yepes Contreras said many people do not know their options or where to go for healthcare.

These Binational Health Week events will try to give people information on what care is available.

"It's the knowledge that you want to impart to them," she said. "These are the services and you can get. They are for everyone."

There will be opportunities for all ages to be involved this weekend. Debbie Weist, owner of Dance With Debbie in Crescent City, will teach half-hour-long classes Saturday afternoon. Weist said she will teach the basic steps of both salsa and merengue dances.

Reach Michelle Ma at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

If You Go

•What: Binational Health

Week events. All are free

of charge.

When: Saturday:

Educational workshops,

12-4 p.m. Talent show,

5-8 p.m.

Sunday: Health fair, 1-5 p.m.

Where: Saturday events will

be held at Smith River

School (564 First St.).

Sunday's health fair will be

at the Smith River

Community Service District

Hall (241 First St.).

•Call 465-6925 ext. 6225 for

more information.

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