MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A national push to help black men take back control of their health made a stop in Memphis Saturday morning.
The National African American Male Wellness Initiative was held in the heart of downtown. The Fourth Bluff Park was transformed into a one-stop health care shop complete with screenings and education that could save lives.
Kenny R. Hampton, Vice-President of the Wellness Agency, says this is an initiative that has been going on for the last 15 years.
As part of this inaugural event, there are vendors and games, but the health of men in the black community is no game. Organizers say they are hoping to show the importance of people being proactive instead of reactive when it comes to their health.
According to the CDC, there are health disparities amongst African Americans considering economic and social conditions.
“Research shows that African American men tend to pass 10 years ahead of most other ethnicities due to these ailments,” said local coordinator Leonard Watkins.
Ailments such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which happened to be the case for one man as he was getting checked.
Emergency responders were called to help get things under control.
Seeing lives be saved is why Memphis Tigers coach Penny Hardaway says events like this are needed now more than ever.
“I’m glad that man showed up this morning, because it was a blessing for him to be tested,” Hardaway said. “That’s the one thing that’s always been a thing in the black neighborhood about black men who don’t want to go to the doctor and checked out.”
Some stay away from doctors because of fear while others say there’s a lack of funds, but for those overseeing the national drive, they are optimistic that the setting — with music and healthy snacks–is what the doctor ordered to alleviate medical mistrust and break through those barriers.
“It takes the edge off learning that information, because some of us are learning some troubling numbers,” Hampton said.
Although its the first time it was held in the Bluff City, there’s almost certainty that it won’t be the last.
“We are looking forward to growing this event,” said Watkins.
You can learn more about The National African American Male Wellness Initiative here.