Providing access to under-served populations is an ongoing concern. On Saturday, April 22, the MSR hosted a Health Family Fair at North High School in North Minneapolis. The event brought people together to learn about available resources and congregate with friends and neighbors.
A number of other organizations joined in the event: the Medtronic Foundation, Matter Inc., Southside Community Health Services, Inc., Project Sweetie Pie and HealthFair 11 Qmmunity. All of the organizations were there to inform the community about healthy living and a holistic lifestyle. KMOJ and QBear provided music.
Vendors such as the Minnesota Department of Health, the Neighborhood Hub, NorthPoint Health and Wellness, Youth Farm and Twin Cities Rise! were also there to share and teach.
Panelist Dr. Michael A. Brooks Jr., the dental director at Northpoint Health and Wellness Center, spoke about the relationship between diabetes and dental care, plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Brooks asked if anyone knew of someone with a heart condition, because there were many ways a dentist could tell if someone was diabetic just by looking inside a patient’s mouth.
“Diabetes and heart disease feed off the bacteria in your mouth,” he continued, “That is why it is so important to brush and floss at least twice daily.”
The food we eat impacts our health as well. Michael Chaney, founder and executive director of Project Sweet Pie, creates spaces for people to come together and enjoy the literal fruits and vegetables of community labor.
“When North High was under attack, myself, and others were part of a group called ‘Afro-Eco’,” he said. “We… could not just sit back and let North High be put out of business, because to kill a school is to kill the heart of a community. So… we decided to start doing something.” North High has a green room, so Chaney and friends presented the idea of getting young people in North Minneapolis to start growing vegetables in the space. That space has now been used since 2010.
Another panelist, Helen Jackson Lockett-El, community engagement planner for the Minnesota Department Center for Equity, spoke on infant mortality rates, “I am happy to be here, because we are talking about healthy families. If we begin to think about our lives as being healthy, and having good nutrition and housing, believe it or not, we will have healthy babies.
“We have too many African American babies dying before their first birthday. African Americans and American Indians are at greater risk for dying than the general populous.
“It is beyond prenatal care. It has to do with housing and employment; [they] also cause stress and impact the baby. It is not a norm to have a premature baby,” she said.
LaCresha Payne, a therapist at Kente Circle, encouraged attendees to seek professional mental health services. She pointed out that mental health in the African American community can be taboo. “Seeking professional services that help you find solutions that work for you is beneficial. Our job as therapists is to help you achieve the skills that you can use to problem-solve and think on your own.”
Payne explained that the purpose of a therapist is not to tell a patient what to do and what not to do. It is their job to help the patient learn to solve problems and become functionally independent.
There was also a cooking demonstration provided by Marcus Kar of Youth Farm and two school-aged assistants with information about lead poisoning.
The MSR and its sponsors and partners are committed to providing resources that help inform the community to make healthful and informed decisions. Another Healthy Family Fair will take place Saturday, May 13 from 12-4 pm at Oxford Community Center in St. Paul.
Brandi D. Phillips accepts all reader comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandi Phillips is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.