Health fair reaches out to minority communities

Apr 24, 2019

Tai Chi enthusiasts and a senior citizen line dance class were just some of the demonstrations seen at a health fair at the Buffalo and Erie County Central Library on Wednesday. The fair is part of National Minority Health month. Booths of different health awareness concerns lined the 2nd floor of the library.

Tai Chi demonstration.
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

A recent Buffalo News article cited poverty as a determining factor as to why whites in Erie County, on average, live five years longer than African Americans. Buffalo African American Health Disparities Task Force member, Pastor George Nicholas said a lack of means in many Buffalo neighborhoods leads to the poor health of its residents.

“They don’t have the resources to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables or they don’t have the resources to maybe get a gym membership,” Nicholas said. “Or if they live in a community where it might be kind of dangerous for them to go out walking or jogging. It makes it very difficult for that person to do the behaviors they need to do in order to stay healthy.”

If root causes of poverty are not addressed, Nicholas said, health statistics for the poor will not change.

Phyllis Caver leads a line dance class.
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

One health issue that continues to be addressed is Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The Centers for Disease Control said across the board, by 2060, the rate of people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia will triple. Currently 14% of African Americans 65 years of age and older suffer from Alzheimer’s or related diseases, which is why Gloria J. Parks Senior Director Phyllis Caver had her Hustle for Health line dance class moving to the beat.

“I’m sure you’ve heard, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it,’” Caver said. “And Alzheimer’s and Dementia is very serious in our senior community, and it’s important to keep the mind moving. The fitness class helps with balance as well as memory, and fall prevention.”

To help with memory, Caver said her class is predicated on repetitive music and movements.