- Black history is celebrated in many ways throughout the month of February. For members of The Poughkeepsie Healthy Black and Latino Coalition, if offers a unique opportunity to not only celebrate the many achievements of African Americans, but to showcase how to live a healthier life by hosting its healthy living expo.
The Poughkeepsie Healthy Black and Latino Coalition (PHBLC) was formed to address health disparities within the Black and Latino communities which are underserved, unaware of resources and underutilizing healthcare services, putting them at greater risk.
Comprised of over 32 representatives from civic and community based organizations, the coalition meets monthly to identify goals and implement strategies for positive change.
Lana Williams-Scott, Diversity Initiative Coordinator at Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley and Co-Chair to the Coalition said in a statement: “It is important to have events like this to begin the dialogue on addressing health disparities and access to healthcare. It is our hope that the community will build a healthy future together and join us.”
Weldon McWilliams, the Keynote Speaker at Saturday’s “Black Health Matters” event, held at the Catherine Street Community Center, spoke on the importance of knowing your history in order to help guide and shape your future.
McWilliams spoke on some of the history, great things and contribution that people of African descent have made in this society, in America and throughout the world. He said he is often concerned that young people aren’t exposed to Black history prior to taking an African studies class like the one he teaches at an area college. “One of the things I find interesting and potentially detrimental to African American students is that they have very little sense of who they are, of whose shoulders they stand on, or the legacy they come from. They don’t know that in elementary school, middle school, or high school,” McWilliams said.
Throughout the day guests were able to have their blood pressure and blood glucose levels checked as well as get a flu shot and HIV testing, all free of charge. In addition to healthy eating demonstrations and a light lunch, an assortment of agencies, including; Planned Parenthood, Center for Prevention of Child Abuse, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Dutchess County Department of Health, MVP, Walgreens, and New York State of Health, were on hand, providing pivotal information as well as fielding questions.
There was also plenty of entertainment throughout the four hour program. Live music and other performances, along with spoken word, a healthy cooking demonstration also relayed the messages of physical and mental fitness.
“On behalf of the Poughkeepsie Healthy Black and Latino Coalition we hope you enjoyed the Celebration of our heritage for Black History Month and invite you to join us at the Poughkeepsie Partnership Center on the second Thursday of each month for our meetings,” concluded Williams-Scott.
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