Participants raise their arms during the National African American Male Wellness Walk at Anacostia Park in Southeast on Sept. 21. (Courtesy of Joshua Ross)
Participants raise their arms during the National African American Male Wellness Walk at Anacostia Park in Southeast on Sept. 21. (Courtesy of Joshua Ross)

An estimated 1,500 people walked, ran or relaxed at Anacostia Park in Southeast on Saturday, Sept. 21.

But the day served for a health initiative where 200 Black men and boys received dental, prostate, HIV and other screenings for the National African American Male Wellness Walk (AAWALK).

“So many us are dying. Some of these [diseases] are preventable,” said Joshua Ross, executive director of the walk. “Just go to the doctor and stop being stubborn.”

The walk, found where Ross resides in Columbus, Ohio, seeks to decrease numbers of Black men who die from illnesses which can be avoidable.

Walk organizers highlight a 2016 Georgetown University that cites 16 percent of the District’s adult population smoke and rates among Blacks are three times higher than whites.

The report highlights social and economic factors such as education, employment and income attribute 40 percent to a person’s health. About 25 percent of Black residents age 25 and older received at least a bachelor’s degree in the city, compared to more than 50 percent of other residents.

The walk’s main takeaways are for men to know their numbers, get moving and visit the doctor annually.

The American Heart Association attributes normal blood pressure levels are less than 120/80 mm. If the first number rises above 180, then a person could be hypertensive crisis and must see a doctor immediately.

Black men 40 and older are more susceptible to diseases such as prostate cancer than other races.

Besides annually check-ups, health organizations and advocates suggest walking at least 30 minutes, limiting alcohol use and eating less sugar.

The Georgetown report provides several recommendations on ways to improve health, including:

• Provide incentives that attract new businesses to historically marginalized neighborhoods.
• Increase the availability of affordable healthy food products and high-quality recreational facilities.
• Examine cost of living and offer livable wages for front-line and entry-level positions.
• Integrate mental health in primary care and ensure the availability of behavioral health services.

In neighboring Prince George’s County, which allows residents to view data on certain health trends.

Based on 2015 figures, the adult obesity rate stood at 36 percent and trending worse, according to county data.

Some partly attribute the obesity to a lack of grocery stores in certain parts of the county. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has made it one of her priorities to create healthier food options in underserved communities.

In terms of Black men’s health, state Sen. Obie Patterson (D-District 26) of Fort Washington may organize a health program and discussion with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.

“Many times, we still get caught up in the macho syndrome of thinking,” he said. “I’m always advocating at my church for preventive care and push for prostate check-ups. We may not be able to cure the condition, but we may be able to slow it down to give us a few more years on Earth to see that granddaughter and grandson get married and have kids.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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