It was a picture-perfect early summer day that greeted guests at the Oneida Indian Nation’s Government Programs and Services’ 23rd annual Kids Day held in the courtyard at the Ray Elm Children and Elders Center.
Amid the hustle and bustle of the super hero-themed event sat Val Scott (Turtle Clan) who held in her arms just one of the many important reasons for this event – 11-month-old Kaya Bembry, daughter of Melissa Bembry (Turtle Clan).
Val, a recent retiree from the Oneida Nation Health Services, noted that Kids Day had humble beginnings, first held in the lot near the original Health Center.
“It’s a lot bigger now,” recalled Val who was sitting with former coworker Vicki Greene (Turtle Clan) under a canopy of trees. “When we first started doing it, it was in the parking lot … It was very small and everything was homemade.”
Today, even though the event has grown in scope, she said it still reflects, “…the true meaning of kids day. It’s an opportunity for services to be one-on-one, and provide education to the public. It’s a fun day for employees and guests.”
“We were here when it started,” she continued. But now, as a grandmother to nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 11 months to 10 years, “…it’s a lot more fun being a visitor.”
“The children really enjoyed all that we had to offer,” Pat Catalano, health promotion specialist for the Oneida Nation, said. “All the Government Programs and Services departments came together and put some really creative ways together to educate our community in a fun way.”
Various booths showcased the year’s Super Hero theme – from Oneida Language offering a cornhole game for prizes, the Nation’s Recreation Center allowing kids to put super hero skills such as archery to the test, and Shako:wi Cultural Center featuring a matching Memory-type game highlighting American Indian super heroes such as Richard Chrisjohn (Wolf Clan) and Olympian Jim Thorpe.
Aside from department booths guests visited with United Health Care, met Madison County Sheriff Department’s K-9 Unit’s Deputy Sheriff Kevin Feola and 2½-year-old Micah, enjoyed face painting and music by DNB Entertainment. The annual Kids Day event is one of many activities planned throughout the year for Oneida Nation Members, Oneida Nation Health Services clients, and employees.