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SE Queens health fair pushes prevention

Southeastern Queens residents came out in force on a cold and rainy Saturday spring afternoon to get free screening, testing and counseling at the community’s annual health fair.

The fair at Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica, sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Sorority, Epsilon Pi Omega Chapter, the Greater Queens Chapter, the Links and the Greater Allen AME Church, tries to familiarize people about the diseases prevalent in the black community.

“We try to educate the African-American community not only about the diseases that affect us,” said Carla Hunter Ramsey, a vice president of the Alpha Kappa Sorority, “but the diseases where information is not readily available to our community.”

She said her sorority has been a sponsor of the event for a number of years and each year it gets bigger and better as more people attend and more services are provided. This year more than 200 people stopped by to get free blood tests, cholesterol screenings and blood pressure screenings.

There was also sickle cell testing, HIV/AIDS screening and vision testing as well as nutrition and diet advice, asthma services, pre-natal assistance programs and children’s checkups.

In addition to the three sponsors, Jamaica Hospital, Queens Hospital and New York Hospital sent mobile units. Colgate-Palmolive Company provided a dental truck.

“We have been doing this health fair for about 15 to 20 years,” said Elizabeth Hooks, president of the Alpha Kappa Sorority. “African-American health care is a primary concern because we don’t reach out for preventative medicine.”

She said the fair gives the community a friendly environment to learn about the illnesses that could have a major effect on their lives. Hospitals, she said, are often very cold, very intimidating and many people are afraid to go there for heath-care advice.

Hooks said the number of people attending the event as well as the numerous health facilities participating proves many people in the black community are concerned about the residents’ health.

“Blood-born diseases affect the African-American community in disproportionate numbers,” Hooks said. “Part of it is education. More then 100,000 people are walking around without knowing what they have.”

The health fair is only one of the many educational events that the sorority holds throughout the year, said Ramsey. She said the organization is constantly trying to broaden health awareness and hold a child safety programs every February to coincide with Children Awareness Month as well as car safety seat programs in November.

“Education is the best prevention,” said Hooks. “Diseases can be controlled by diet and prevented by diet.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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