Reverend Robert Waterman, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, has partnered with the NAACP Brooklyn Branch and Provident Clinical Society to host Health and Spirituality: A Day of Awareness.
The free community health event was held at Antioch Baptist Church, Sunday, November 4, 2007 following church services. Attendees had the opportunity to get free blood sugar, blood pressure BMI and cholesterol screenings as well as HIV Counseling.
Brooklyn is burdened by high rates of disease and mortality, and should be a priority for national efforts to improve overall community health outcomes. As an example, African-American men and women in this area have higher death rates from diabetes, heart disease, stroke and HIV/AIDS than their white counterparts.
Additionally, more than 50 percent of Brooklyn residents are overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being overweight or obese may lead to other diseases and health conditions, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.
“Health and Spirituality: A Day of Awareness at Antioch Baptist Church offered tools and resources for empowering our residents to take charge of their health and wellness,” remarked Reverend Robert Waterman, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church. “A successful change in health outcomes for Brooklyn residents requires commitment and involvement from community health leaders.”
Legendary actress and activist Ruby Dee said, “I’m not talking about young people right now because they have a whole life ahead of them. I’m talking about us seniors, we can change things.” And so saying, Ms. Dee, star of stage and screen for over 50 years, and with a new movie just coming out, urged the seniors to take advantage of their years. “You can do anything you damn please.” Urging them to remember their trials of their lives and use them as a source of strength to go forth and do good in the world, Ms. Dee minced no words. “What else can they do to us? Kill us? You’re going to be dead anyway, so you might as well make it count.”
Ms. Dee went on to put her own spin on the necessity to adhere to programs for management of chronic diseases, saying, “We have to stay healthy to better manage our lives and better manage the next revolution that old people have to conduct. Because as seniors, as elders, we have work to do. We’ve been through enough and ought to have a little more sense than we’ve been seeing. We’ve got to stop these wars,” says Ms. Dee. We’ve got to get on the Internet. Seniors have to connect worldwide. And if we connect soon enough, we’ll be able to get a few things going, the way we think they ought to go. We’ve got to get our kids out of jail. She spoke of the wonder of the human species and how its existence cannot be merely to “own things, eat, go to the bathroom and die. We’re put on this earth to do something more than that. We have to be powerful, to be proactive, and to understand our greatness as a species. We are the last bastion of human hope on this earth. We’ve got to stay healthy because we’ve got work to do.”
Dee Bailey, executive director of the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, said, “HIV and AIDS is here. One out of six African-American men is infected. One out of 160 Black females is infected with HIV and AIDS. In New York City alone we have 150,000 people infected with HIV and AIDS. It’s an epidemic. In 2008, my new motto is: “We all have AIDS.”
“Unless you are tested, the assumption must be that you have AIDS. The only way to dispel that “terrible, terrible rumor is to get tested,” said Ms. Bailey, who then donated $10,000 to the HIV ministry of Antioch Baptist Church on behalf of her organization.
Participants in health education and screening organizations for this event included the NAACP Brooklyn Branch, Provident Clinical Society, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, American Diabetes Association, the Social Security Administration, EPIC and Pfizer.