Holistic Health Fair to Look at the Needs of Youth of Color Ages 13-29

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

DETROIT - The Horizons Project will present a holistic health conference for youth of color ages 13-29 on Feb. 25. The fair, "Healthy Me, Stigma Free," aims to pair youth up with the health services they may need at the University of Michigan Center, 3663 Woodward in Detroit.

"The idea for the health fair came from numerous conversations between myself and my coworker, David Perrett," said Ari Hampton, lab coordinator for the Horizons Project, a highly-acclaimed program of the Wayne State University School of Medicine. "The conversations centered on the continuous lack in support services and the need to increase community participation at health fairs where we were attendees. This dialog encouraged us to start asking the community what they wanted and/or needed to see at health fairs, which are geared towards them. We took their feedback and pitched the idea to our organization, where it was received with enthusiasm. We wanted to make sure that the wide range of community agencies that are going to participate in the health fair acknowledged that our community is more than just our sexual needs."

To that end, the fair will offer health screenings - including Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis, blood pressure, glucose, vision and dental - as well as housing assistance, insurance enrollment, support groups and a clothing giveaway.

"We had attended different health fairs in the past, some that were successful and some that were a fail," said Perrett, and outreach worker in the WSU Prevention and Outreach Department. "We realized there was a not only a need but a big gap between service providers and the community. Often times we're at a panel discussion talking about STI's but it's never the holistic concerns of the community."

That's why, Hampton said, this fair will be different.

"The goal of this health fair is to not only provide a wide range of health screenings but also to provide a safe space that allows youth to obtain essential resources," he said. "We also want youth to leave the event knowing that they have the right and ability to confidently navigate healthcare and support service systems in a stigma-free environment.

"In an effort to eliminate barriers and make this an educationally fun and interactive experience for the community, we will be providing all services for free," Hampton continued. "There will be free food, music, group activities, crafting and a clothing closet for youth. We are also raffling off prizes for youth that receive any health screenings during this event."

If this first health fair is a success, Hampton and Perrett Jr. are hoping to make it an annual event.

"We're hoping to introduce a new somewhat progressive approach to how we service the community and we hope to build and foster better relationships between our community members and the service providers," Perrett Jr. said. "Most importantly, we hope to make this an annual one-stop shop for health services. We realize it's hard for people to find transportation to get to all these doctor's appointments so we're going to make this a central hub where people can come get screenings and their first introduction to health care. Then we will have done our job."

For more information, contact the WSU Prevention and Outreach Department at 313-577-6098, by email at dperrett@med.wayne.edu or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WSUPjoinUs/.
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