Participants in the 5K run/walk, which was sponsored by Sports and Leadership Academy, gather at the starting line to prepare for their 3-mile run.

Brooklyn Center held it’s 4th annual Community Health Fair on Aug. 13, at the city’s Centennial Park. The event brought together community members for a day of events that included vendor booths, running and walking events, entertainment, activities for children, food, and of course health screening. Mshale’s Panashe Matemba-Mutasa was there to document it.

Dr. Angel Smith, the communications and community engagement manager at City of Brooklyn Center, addresses event attendees. “This event is a step in the right direction because we are taking care of our mental and physical health.”
Glenda Eldridge said an unhealthy childhood motivated her to reconsider her lifestyle choices and become a “health enthusiast” to avoid her parents’ fate. “As a kid, so many of us [in the African American community] would eat meals with no veggies. After watching my mom and dad pass away from cancer, I thought about the ways we can improve as a people.”
Volunteers, attendees, and staff pose for a photo after students from Sports and Leadership Academy give brief speeches.
Frankie Miamen, the founder of Sports and Leadership Academy, shared his vision behind starting the company. “Our mission is to inspire the next generation through sports, and we believe that every kid and young adult can improve their life through physical activity. We chose sports as an avenue because we [many in the African American/Black community] grew up on sports. A lot of kids are still dealing with mental health issues from the pandemic, so we are blessed to be able to provide this outlet for them.”
Afrocontigbo, an African dance company based in nearby Hopkins, performed a set that included traditional and contemporary dances from various parts of Africa. Nigerian-born Korma Aguh-Stuckmayer said that regular dance can be a good way to maintain good mental health. “We believe that dancing should be a part of everyone’s life.”
Tanya Welch said she had been attending the health fair every year because it is good for the community. “I come here every year, and it’s a great opportunity for us to come together. This so far has been my favorite one yet.”
LaToya Turk, the interim manager of the city’s Office of Community Prevention, Health and Safety, said she was proud to be part of the team that makes the event possible every year. “This is an opportunity for us to present to our community different resources as it pertains to health and wellness: both physical and mental. We are intentional in making this an inclusive experience, and even our vendor selection reflects the diversity of our wonderful city.”
Dr. Sboyah Karloh (left) and Chen Barwu participate in the 5K run. “I play soccer in Brooklyn Park. I wanted to be a part of this because I care about mental health. You can be doing well in every aspect of your life but if your mental health is not ok, you are not ok,” Karloh said.
Nduba Namoonde, a Zambian American and branch manager at a financial firm, said despite walking 11 miles the night before, he decided to attend the health fair. “I got excited when I saw some of the activities offered here, like the 5K walk. It’s so important to take the opportunity to get out and exercise when you can.”
Attendees listen as students from Sports and Leadership Academy, an organization that partners with local schools to encourage physical activity, share their experiences at the academy and talk about why physical fitness is important.
David Kromah said he suffered a soccer-related injury but still tried to get out and exercise whenever he could for the sake of both his physical and mental health. “Mental health is important to me because it controls the whole body.”
Kahlil Permenter supports his wife, Felicia, the owner of AKN Wellness, a service-based health and wellness organization based in Minneapolis. Permenter says that he and his wife take their health seriously and hope to be able to help the community place more value in good health. “I’m starting to see a huge change among Black people where we’re being more proactive about our health, and I think it’s great.”

About Panashe Matemba-Mutasa, Mshale Reporter

Panashe is a general assignments reporter.

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