“Teeing Up” for Health: LSU Barbershop Initiative Partners with Local Church for Golf Tournament
BATON ROUGE – Before “hitting the green” on an early Saturday morning in June, Baton Rouge men were invited to participate in free health screenings at BREC’s Howell Park Golf Course as LSU’s “Fresh Cuts Clean Health” initiative partnered with Wesley United Methodist Church, or UMC, for its inaugural Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament.
“Fresh Cuts Clean Health,” or FCCH, is a barbershop outreach initiative that provides free health screenings to men of color in Baton Rouge barbershops. The initiative also provides follow up educational events and partners with other health initiative programs. It is coordinated by the LSU Community University Partnership and funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.
Combining golf and health screenings isn’t something that happens every day. But the local church requested the health initiative’s participation after “Fresh Cuts Clean Health” held a “Brother to Brother” educational health night at Wesley last fall.
“Programs like [FCCH] are critical for our community. We can and must do more to educate men of color about risks associated with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” said Rev. Joe Connelly, pastor of Wesley UMC.
According to Leroy Pero, Wesley UMC member and golf tournament director, inviting FCCH to join the tournament was a natural fit.
“We wanted to find an innovative way to raise scholarship funds,” said Pero. “Incorporating the free screenings was one more way for everyone to have fun while promoting a good cause.”
A phlebotomy team was provided from LSU’s Health Sciences Center/Earl K. Long Clinic. Screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol were offered to teams as they checked in at the course prior to beginning the tournament.
“Some of the men were apprehensive about participating,” said Hilda Bryant, head phlebotomist. “But, that’s something we’re used to.”
Bryant added that a few participants had “high” readings and were unaware of having a chronic condition. Overall, however, Bryant described most participants as “intrigued” to know their health numbers. Otis Washington was one of those.
“A lot of us [men] go out on the golf course and think we are still 16 and invincible to health problems, so it was good to take a step back and take a better look at our health,” Washington said.
A continental breakfast of healthy food options was also provided to screened participants.
This isn’t the first time FCCH has partnered with local organizations to spread the message of health awareness. In April 2011, the initiative brought free screenings and haircuts to the Gardere Giveaway, an annual event that reaches Latino residents of that community. In the summer of that same year, FCCH hosted a “Family Health Night,” at the local McKinley Alumni Center with LSU AgCenter’s Body Walk program and the South Baton Rouge Civic Association.
“At CUP, we believe that good things happen when we connect the right people with the right people,” said Brandon Smith, LSU community affairs liaison. “By partnering with organizations outside of our gates, we get our message out more effectively and build our ‘street cred’ at the same time.”
For more information on “Fresh Cuts Clean Health,” contact the LSU Community University Partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org.