Health fair focuses on the heart of the matter - November 13, 2018

Courtesy of The Post-Tribune

Written by Sue Ellen Ross

Gary sisters Genevieve Singleton and Gina Parker each work 50-plus hours per week, so they always plan fun activities for the weekend. They both will retire within the next year and want to enjoy their future years by keeping a healthy lifestyle.

Both of those goals aligned at the recent Fall Community Health Fair at St. Timothy’s Church, as they participated in screenings, health lectures and collecting information on many topics.

The event was a collaboration between Methodist Hospitals and the Association of Black Cardiologists, under its signature community-based program Spirit of the Heart, and other local and national sponsors.

“This is such an amazing event, because it is right here in the heart of Gary,” said Roberta Overall of Gary, as she looked over the morning’s schedule. “It’s one of many things available to residents here, you just have to find them.”

On the day’s agenda were free flu shots and various screenings. Heart and stroke risk assessments also were offered, as well as educational demonstrations.

Hosting the event was Val Warner from ABC7 News’ Windy City Live, and also appearing as guest presenter was actor, educator and activist Lamman Rucker.

Rucker is best known as the star of Tyler Perry’s, “Why Did I Get Married?” film sequel and hit film/sitcom, “Meet The Browns”. He currently stars in the hit series “Greenleaf” as Jacob Greenleaf, airing on OWN and Netflix.

Rucker related the connection of healthy lifestyles with not only a person’s upbringing and current habits, but also how they observe their family’s habits, as well as their place in the community. Gone are the days when multi-generational family members sat down and discussed health matters of their ancestors and current families, Rucker said.

“Today, getting too far away from talking face-to-face is causing a break in relationships,” he added. “I feel my family’s open attitude about who was experiencing what health issue has made me more aware of taking care of myself. And health fairs like the one today add to that awareness.”

Warner asked him how to get back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle and healthy community.

Elders should share their wisdom and those younger should pay attention, as learning about others can help them make positive lifestyle choices, he responded.

“I attribute much of my success to coming from a beautiful and healthy community,” Rucker added. “(Positive) examples were set for me.”

He added that advice for older family members is to exhibit beneficial behaviors and encourage young people to be concerned of their bodies.

“Much of the new technology (phones, computers, etc.) have disconnected us from the family,” he added.

“We need to go back to communication with each other and actively restore this in our families.”

Harold Martin of Hammond was visiting his brother in Gary and the pair was in the audience.

“That young man makes a lot of sense,” Martin said of Rucker’s speech “Whenever we had a big family dinner, us kids looked forward to granddad’s talks after dessert. There were many stories — I can’t remember them all — but we came away with a kind of sense of purpose and how we fit in.”

And that kind of knowledge is what Rucker was talking about, according to fair visitor Janey Lou Washington of Gary, who sat next to the Martins.

“He voiced exactly what many of us believe,” she said.

In addition to the hospital’s screenings, vendors included local pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies and Tobacco Prevention, a NWI Health Department Cooperative.

“This fair today is important in many ways,” said Sara Laudensack, account coordinator at Pfizer RX Pathways, as she arranged pamphlets on her table “It’s energizing the community by bringing awareness of their health issues through the screenings. And the vendors are giving out relevant materials that go along with that.”

Audience member Jackie Tranter of Gary said she was going away from the event with much more than she was expecting.

“I now see that in addition to taking care of your body physically, there also is the mind and spirit factors,” she added. “I love these local health fairs.”

The mission of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc. (ABC) is to champion the elimination of cardiovascular disease (CVD) disparities through education, research and advocacy.

ABC is dedicated to eliminating the disparities related to CVD in all people of color. The ABC is a New York based international membership non-profit organization of nearly 45 years. Its members include more than 1,800 healthcare providers of all disciplines, corporations, health advocates, lay persons and others committed in advancing its mission.

The Spirit of the Heart, a decade-old signature community-based program of the ABC, is designed to help community leaders, consumers, and others understand the disparities of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and knowledge that heart disease is preventable with adequate access to care and heart healthy practices that are essential for optimal living.

For more information, visit online at www.abcardio.org.