Two free community events this Saturday seek to address health equity

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A couple of organizations will host different events this weekend in an effort increase Minneapolis’ health equity.

Block party Live your Healthy Lyfe will take place on Minneapolis’ west side. The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is completely free. It aims to raise awareness about the health resources available in the historically Black neighborhood.

Originally, the idea was to create a healthy event for West Broadway. It evolved into an event that emphasized health equity and increased education about it.

Teto Wilson, a participant in the 2019 event and owner of Wilson’s Image Barbershop & Stylists at 2126 West Broadway Ave. noticed that there were not many healthy options available.

Wilson stated, “If you want to get like a healthy meal, you have to travel outside of Minneapolis.”

Wilson was often visiting other cities for food and community events. Wilson wanted to see those types of entertainment and powerful messages on the northside too so he made hope a reality.

A variety of Black-owned businesses, arts, activities, and music will be on display. There will also be community conversations, food science demonstrations and health screenings. Wilson acknowledges that housing security is an important part of a person’s overall health.

Wilson stated that anyone who is dealing with health problems should be able to access health resources. We want people to be empowered and to build relationships with those in the health care system that are not traditionally open to us. We want to create a bridge between the community, the health care system and each other so that we can both cross and meet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Americans are more likely to die young from nearly all health-related causes than their white counterparts. Nearly 84 per cent of north Minneapolis is made up of Black and Brown residents. The highest concentration of Black-owned Northside businesses lies between Penn Avenue and Logan Avenues on West Broadway Avenue.

Bruce Leroy, a local comedian, will host the event. The event will also feature musical guests Lewie Blaze and BdotCroc as well as Jamela Pettiford and International Reggae Stars.

A Kickoff Event for Health in Her Hue is also being held in Brooklyn Center. This platform connects Black women with culturally sensitive healthcare providers, evidence based health content and community support. The Heritage Center, 6155 Earle Brown Dr., will host the event from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Be The Match representatives will participate in the event to increase its presence in underrepresented areas and improve the diversity of national blood stem cell/marrow registry. Be The Match has a program to connect healthy adults with patients with blood cancers or other blood diseases in order to provide stem cell transplants.

Erica Jensen is the senior vice president of member engagement, enrollment and experience at Be The Match. She stated that there is a large disparity in match outcomes due to the lack of diverse members.

Black patients have only 29% of the chance of finding a matching donor through the registry. This compares to 79% for white patients. The registry has 9 million members in the United States.

Mikayla Draughon is a Minnesota teenager who was diagnosed with sickle-cell disease at birth. She is currently looking for a match. Her doctors suggested she have a bone marrow donation two years ago, but she has yet to find a match.

Demitrea Kelley’s mother, Mikayla, stated that “if it’s so bad, we need a bone-marrow transplant, then how are we going to continue waiting all these years?”

Her mom stated that the closest match she found was an 80% match. This didn’t feel promising. Be The Match aims to increase the number of people who register and to encourage donors, particularly people of color.

Kelley stated, “We cannot just sit here and say, ‘Oh doesn’t affect me, so that doesn’t matter.’” We are one community. “We should all be one another.”

Jensen answered a question about the reasons for the lack of ethnic diversity on the registry. He cited the United States’ history and the representation of health care staffers in the United States.

Jensen stated that there are many historical and current issues of mistrust in the United States’ health care system. Jensen also mentioned that people can store their information and have it walls built due to the history of this country and the treatment of Black bodies.

Kelley believes Saturday’s Hue is more than just finding a match for one person.

“I am not advocating for Mikayla. Kelley stated that we advocate for all people who are dealing with the same issue or similar issues. “We are helping all minorities and clients who need blood. This is vital for all.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

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