Many Memphis residents attend church to tend to their spiritual needs, but in the fall of 2014, they also went there to learn how to manage their health needs.
The Healthy Church Fairs, held at nine local churches in and around Memphis were free.
People could come in to get health screenings, listen to speakers, see cooking demos focused on nutrition, participate in group exercise and even win some amazing prizes.
So when in-demand radio personality Michael Adrian Davis was asked to emcee these events, he made room in his calendar to host every single one.
“It is important for me as an African-American in particular because a lot of times we don’t really access the health care system until it’s too late,” he says. “Whether it’s financial or a lack of insurance, I’ve seen a lot of people who have real serious ailments in Walgreens trying to get an over-the-counter cure when they really need to be admitted somewhere. That’s why with these healthy church fairs, some people came to two or three of them just to get information or to exercise. People really enjoyed the access.”
The fact that these were community happenings helped draw crowds.
Dr. Ericka Gunn-Hill, Health Ministry Coordinator for St. Andrew A.M.E. Church, saw location as a key to the turnout.
“A lot of times people have health fairs at hospitals. But people aren’t going to a hospital; they’re trying to stay away from it!” she says, smiling. “So by actually going into the community — and to church where people already are — you increase access to information and care. You meet people where they are.”
That meant that 225 people had health screenings at the St. Andrew event.
Gunn-Hill compares that to health fairs they have held in the past that typically do about 75 screenings in a day.
Plus the fairs gave people options: Get a dental screening while your kids get a physical. Try a free Zumba class. Learn how to cook with “good” fat.
Or, if none of that strikes your fancy, just enter the drawing for a free Xbox. The important part — getting people started.
“Getting people moving and showing them that they can be healthy by doing things that are fun. That’s what made Healthy Church Fairs such a great success,” Gunn-Hill says.