By Sean Barron
When it comes to taking care of oneself, Dave Davis is one of the first people who will point out that what you don’t know truly can hurt you.
“I tell people, ‘You’d rather know than not know; catch it early and get it fixed,’” the Youngstown man said, referring to the importance of health and wellness screenings to detect and then treat high-blood pressure and other health problems in their early stages.
Davis took advantage of such offerings when he had his blood pressure as well as cholesterol and blood-sugar levels checked during a free screening, a series of which were a core part of Saturday morning’s sixth annual African American Male Wellness 5K Walk and Run that began and ended at the Covelli Centre, downtown.
Davis, who joined hundreds of men, women and children for the walk/run through the city, likely returned home with greater peace of mind, because the results of his tests indicated he was in the normal range, he said.
Screenings were done also to check participants’ body-mass index and glucose readings. In addition, a mammography unit and a dental-care vehicle were available.
Community sponsors included Mercy Health, which provided many of the screenings, the city of Youngstown, Akron Children’s Hospital, the Academy of Urban Scholars, Ronald McDonald Charities and Chemical Bank.
Mayor Jamael Tito Brown was this year’s honorary chairman, though he was unable to attend because of another commitment.
The family-friendly event’s core purposes were to encourage greater health awareness and proactivity in the urban community, along with showcasing the value of exercise, placing a greater emphasis on prevention and stressing the importance of consistent visits to family doctors, organizers said.
“It’s a blessing to understand and promote good health practices, not just for the individual, but in the community at large,” said the Rev. Dr. Lewis W. Macklin II, walk chairman.
Heightening the event’s importance is that black men still suffer from heart disease, diabetes and stroke in disproportionately higher numbers than other men, noted the Rev. Mr. Macklin, who also is pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side.
Health-screening results from 2016 with 21,000 participants showed that about 83 percent were overweight, 52 percent had elevated blood glucose and 78 percent showed symptoms of pre-hypertension, according to the national African American Male Wellness Walk Initiative.
The AAMWWI was established in 2004 to empower men to better understand that prevention often can lead to longer lives, according to its mission statement.
Before the walk and run got underway, dozens of attendees of all ages received a solid workout, thanks to Kelley Frazier, who led an outdoor Zumba session. Later, others took part in a bit of line dancing.
Paul Weston, who directs the Kingdom Keepers of Time Drumline, said the 15 members who came were happy to play for the runners and walkers at the start and end of the event. Assisting him were Bishop Alice Parkman and Vera Little, co-directors.
Also available was a variety of fruits, nuts and other healthful foods; free cardiopulmonary resuscitation kits for youngsters; local, state and federal resources for veterans and their families; information on quitting smoking and losing weight; pamphlets pertaining to senior care, health care plans and recovery services for those battling addictions; and brochures with tips to help people restore their credit scores.
In addition, tables were set up to register people to vote.
Also on hand was Penny Wells, executive director of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, who was distributing fliers on the eighth annual Ohio Nonviolence Week Parade & Rally, set for 3 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Covelli Centre. Among those expected to attend is Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of nine black students who in September 1957 integrated the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.
The walk and run also featured young local authors Reagan Nevels, an Austintown Middle School student who penned a motivational book called “Vision Collision,” and Ayana S. Beulah, a 2018 Struthers High School graduate who wrote a novel titled “How I Fell in Love with Myself.”