More than 20 years after the original African American Health Expo took place in Fort Worth, the annual fair will offer free prostate and mammogram screenings, cooking demonstrations and a twist — roughly 75 tables with interactive experiences for attendees.
Misty Wilder, an expo volunteer who directs the Healthy Start program at The University of North Texas Health Science Center, said she’s trying to avoid a “trick-or-treat fest,” where people merely fill a bag with flyers and business cards.
“(We want) something that really is meaningful,” she said. “They can get a screening, they can know their status, because we know that, if you have any chronic disease or sexually transmitted disease, if these are caught early enough and treated in time, your life trajectory can be different and longer.”
If you go:
What: African American Health Expo
When: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday, April 29
Where: The University of North Texas Health Science Center, 1000 Montgomery St., Fort Worth, TX 76107
The event is free and open to the public. Only the cancer screenings require registration.]
The April 29 event almost didn’t happen this year. Health fairs don’t always yield the return on investment organizers hope for, Wilder said, so she and her colleagues considered taking the year for a strategic reimagination of the expo. Instead, they’ve opted to do both: Hold the event while working to reinvent it.
For example, the Healthy Start table will challenge people to a cloth-diaper-changing race. Healthy Start is a government-funded program that offers prenatal and postpartum care to women and their families.
“People have gotten away from cloth diapers,” Wilder said. “We talk about the economic impact (they) can have on a family.”
Roughly 75 North Texas organizations, including JPS Health Network, Tarrant County Public Health and Cook Children’s Health Care System, will table. Small businesses, like TeamJones Jewelry and Accessories, will sell their wares — an opportunity to funnel money back into the community.
While the expo, a collaboration of North Texas volunteers who work in health and education, focuses on Black people who are uninsured or underinsured, everyone is welcome, Wilder said.
Moncrief Cancer Institute will provide the health screenings and requires registration beforehand. Everyone else can simply show up. Mind Your Garden Urban Farm in Fort Worth will make smoothies and chili for people to sample.
Wilder hopes people leave with their health questions answered and a sense of responsibility for themselves and each other.
“It’s up to us as a community to make sure that everybody knows that their health matters,” she said.
Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources.
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