By Sean Barron
As a city councilman, Julius Oliver is accustomed to dealing with large numbers related to budgets, appropriations and taxes, but a series of smaller figures he had checked hit a lot closer to home.
“It’s better to find out early than find out too late,” said Oliver, D-1st, referring to the importance of having one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and body-mass index screened.
Those were the three health areas Oliver had checked during the fourth annual African-American Male Wellness Walk/5K Run of the Mahoning Valley Saturday morning at the Covelli Centre downtown.
Several hundred men, women and children walked, ran and bicycled during the free event, said to be Ohio’s largest health initiative for black males.
The walk and run, themed “Healthy Men Make Healthy Families,” was aimed at improving health and wellness, especially in urban communities, via educational offerings to empower men and their families, organizers said.
Before gathering for the walk and run, which took participants through parts of downtown and the North Side, many took advantage of free health checks. Licensed medical professionals provided
screenings for blood pressure, BMI, blood glucose, cholesterol, hearing, dentistry and weight and height; also offered were flu vaccinations and lead testing.
Oliver, who is a YMCA member and whose daily workout regimen includes muscle training, said the results he received at the event indicate he has no health concerns. It’s imperative that people get screened, largely because catching small health problems often prevents bigger ones from developing – much like preventive maintenance for a vehicle, he said.
“This is a great overall event for the community,” Oliver said, adding he appreciated the level of professionalism the health-care screeners exhibited.
One of those was Rich Mauro, a student at ETI Technical College in Niles, who is studying to be a licensed practical nurse.
Soon after the event got underway, Mauro already had checked between 30 and 40 people’s blood sugar, vital signs and BMI readings. Nearly all had numbers in the healthful range, he said.
“Everybody seems to be doing what they should be doing,” Mauro added, while advising people to be aware of what they eat and drink and to monitor their sugar and salt intake.
Black men especially are susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure, but a few lifestyle adjustments can go a long way toward restoring or living a more healthful life, noted the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II, event coordinator and chairman.
An example is simply walking through one’s neighborhood on a regular basis, said the Rev. Mr. Macklin, who is pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side.
“We’re saying early intervention is the key,” he added.
Also, veterans are among those for whom health screenings and outreach efforts are vital, partly because many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional problems, noted Delmas Stubbs, a community-outreach coordinator with the Veterans Service Commission of Mahoning County.
Many veterans are unaware of the area’s resources and services regarding benefits, compensation and pensions, so an event such as Saturday’s walk and run helped to spread the word, said Stubbs, who added he made lifestyle changes after suffering a massive heart attack.
“We have to change our way of thinking and, especially, of eating,” he continued.
Additional resources included services on problem gambling as well as short-term and drug counseling, courtesy of Meridian Care; home, health and business insurance; early child-care programs; information pertaining to foot care; offerings from Eastern Gateway Community College; an array of fruits and other healthful foods; and brochures on Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer, pneumococcal disease, whooping cough and vaccines.
Also part of the event were karate and Zumba classes, cooking demonstrations, various activities and giveaways for kids.
Making remarks before the walk and run were Mr. Macklin, Mayor John A. McNally and Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.