Here is a call to the Mahoning Valley’s men, particularly black and Hispanic men: Make sure you get to the Covelli Centre for free health screenings next Saturday and bring your walking and running shoes.
The fifth annual African-American Male Wellness Walk Initiative features a 5K walk/run, which will start about 9 a.m. The Youngstown-Warren walk/run is part of the largest health initiative for black Americans and other minorities in Ohio. This is the 13th year for the national initiative, which features other walks across the state and country.
The walk/run’s goal is to raise awareness for preventable health diseases in men.
At 7 a.m., men are encouraged to take advantage of free health screenings. Let me emphasize the word free.
Those screenings include dental, audiology, podiatry, mental health, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, prostate, stroke and heart-attack risk assessment, body-fat percentages and a mobile dental unit.
The Rev. Lewis Macklin, the local event’s energetic chairman, is also excited about a new addition to event.
“This year, we will have a specialized veterans’ pavilion. The Vet Center will bring a fully staffed mobile unit that will provide a full array of services to veterans and their families,” the Rev. Mr. Macklin said.
He is assisted by hundreds of volunteers, who have been planning the event for months.
Mr. Macklin said there will be a youth wellness pavilion that will feature interactive activities, a rock-climbing tower and air-brushed T-shirts.
Here’s another perk: The walk/run organizers and sponsors are providing free exercise equipment to everyone who gets a health screening while supplies last, Mr. Macklin said.
There also will be entertainment, exercise workouts, dancing and cooking demonstrations on how to prepare healthful meals.
The statewide sponsor is CareSource, which provides public health care programs, including Medicaid and Medicare, and is headquartered in Dayton. The organizing sponsor is the National Center for Urban Solutions in Columbus. The Ohio Commission on Minority Health also has had a long-standing relationship with the walk/run initiative.
Don’t let the name of the event give you the impression it’s only for black men. Mr. Macklin stressed the walk/run is open to the entire community.
Emphasis is placed on black and Hispanic men, however, because they have some of the highest health risks and yet, in many cases, they are reluctant to see doctors who can help reduce or prevent those risks.
Here are some of the sobering statistics as provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
37.6 percent of black men 20 years and older are obese; 39.7 percent of Hispanic men 20 years and older are obese.
40.9 percent of black men 20 and older have hypertension (high blood pressure) and/or are taking medication to control their blood pressure.
20.4 percent of Hispanic men 20 and older have high blood pressure.
The leading causes of death for black men 20 and older are heart disease, cancer and stroke. A sobering stat is the top cause of death nationwide is homicide. For Hispanic men, the top causes of death are cancer, heart disease and unintentional injuries cause by accidents.
The walk begins at the Covelli, goes to the East Side via Andrews Avenue, and returns to the arena via Andrews.
Youngstown police officers and other volunteers will be along the route to ensure the safety of walkers. There also will be volunteers to provide water for walkers and runners.
I was one of the honorary chairmen for the first local event, and I’ve participated in four of the five walks.
Mr. Macklin said walk organizers this year will honor Ron and Lynette Miller of Youngstown and Carolla Williams of Warren for their longtime efforts celebrating black heritage.
The Millers have long been involved with local Kwanzaa celebrations that take place in the city from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Kwanzaa, started in 1966 by Dr. Maulena Karenga in Los Angeles, is a holiday that gives black Americans the opportunity to reunite with family and friends and to pay tribute to their African heritage.
They are founders and co-coordinators of Harambee Youth Organization, which has worked with youngsters to teach them to perform traditional African music and dances.
Ron, a lawyer, was the longtime executive director of the Youngstown Area Urban League and served on the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission. Lynette was a guidance counselor with Youngstown City Schools and is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. They have a daughter, Zakiya.
Williams and her late husband, Van Williams, co-founded the Trumbull County African-American Achievers Association. Carolla Williams spearheads Warren’s annual homecoming events to lessen neighborhood tensions by promoting brotherhood. She is owner/operator of Van & Carolla’s Barber Shop in Warren, Mr. Macklin said.
Also honored will be the late Olla Tate, a registered nurse, who served as a nursing volunteer at previous walks.
Go to www.aawalk.org to read about the history of the walk, and call 330-788-1696 for information or to volunteer your services.
Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at email@example.com.