Brother to Brother: Local Men Meet to Discuss Their Health
BATON ROUGE – When the sounds of laughter fill a room at a local church, one might not assume they are discussing blood pressure. But that’s exactly what happened recently when male students from LSU and men from the community gathered at Wesley United Methodist Church to discuss health topics as part of a “Brother to Brother” session.
The program, hosted by the LSU Community University Partnership, or CUP, served as a follow-up educational outreach for its “Fresh Cuts, Clean Health” barbershop initiative.
“Fresh Cuts, Clean Health,” or FCCH, provides free health screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol for men in local barbershops. To complement the health screenings, FCCH coordinates “health nights” to provide information and raise awareness. The initiative is funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.
The “Brother to Brother” men’s health night brought men, doctors and health professionals together for a dialogue about health, instead of only having information presented.
“What made this event different is that the men were able to participate in a dialogue that informed the facilitators as opposed to just sitting and listening,” said Brandon Smith, community affairs liaison at LSU. “They asked the doctors questions, and the conversations would progress from there.”
The health night was facilitated by Dr. Rani Whitfield, a local health advocate also known as the Hip Hop Doc, and Dr. Robert Newton, assistant professor of inactivity physiology at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“The doctors were really down to earth and put hard medical jargon into simple everyday terms,” said Phillip Nelson, an LSU junior majoring in information systems & decision sciences. “It was also nice to hear what the other men said and the questions they had about their health.”
In keeping with the fall football season, the night was themed “Get in The Game!” with sessions titled “Playing Offense” (Prevention and Awareness) and “Playing Defense” (Detection and Maintenance). The sessions focused on what to do before and after a person acquires a health condition.
“Awareness and prevention of chronic diseases in African-American men is critical to their health,” said Newton. “Chronic diseases are the leading killers of African-American men, and providing them with knowledge at events like ‘Brother to Brother’ will motivate them to improve their health.”
Free health screenings were given by a phlebotomy team from LSU Health, as well as free hearing tests by Chester Charles, adjunct professor of communication disorders at Southern University and a member at Wesley United Methodist Church; and tobacco information was presented by Frankie Poland from Southern University’s AgCenter Communities of Color, or CoC, Network.
“The CoC Network seeks opportunities, such as the men’s health night at Wesley, to enhance awareness and reduce tobacco use, consumption, and secondhand smoke exposure among Louisiana communities of color,” said Poland.
Finally, healthy food options were provided to the attendees of the program.
“The food went along with what the doctors were saying about eating healthier and choosing better food selections,” said William White, local resident and program participant. “Overall, I really enjoyed the program and can’t wait until the next one!”