The festival provided attendees a generous dose of fun activities balanced with information on health and wellness.

The Greater Washington Urban League, in partnership with AmeriHealth D.C., hosted its second annual Health and Wellness Back to School Festival, Aug. 16 at the Urban League’s headquarters in northwest D.C. The festival provided attendees a generous dose of fun activities balanced with information on health and wellness. Participants were treated to hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn, cotton candy, face painting, free backpacks with school supplies, healthy cooking demonstrations, fitness and line dance demo, a first time home buyers workshop and counseling, free fresh produce, and more.

President and CEO of the local Urban League chapter, George Lambert Jr., said the festival touched on important health areas challenging the community. “I can’t think of a better way to spend this Saturday than putting a spotlight on health and wellness,” said Lambert. “This festival touches on the health disparity surrounding African-American families in our community. We hope that people will leave here with information on their health.”

The homebuyers workshop provided information on home loans and home foreclosure. Other festival sponsors included MedStar Health, Geico, Eli Lilly, and CareFirst. Its major sponsor, AmeriHealth D.C., provided free blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, and HIV screenings. “Our main purpose is to educate families on the benefits available to them concerning their health needs,” said Jennifer Robinson, the marketing coordinator for AmeriHealth.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray spoke, highlighting the importance of promoting wellness and fitness in the District. “There was a time for a long time when we had such dismal statistics here in the District of Columbia,” he said. “People, didn’t work out, we didn’t really have a good healthcare system. We have come a long way from having some of the worst statistics in terms of HIV and AIDS for many years,{and} we’ve now improved those tremendously. We also have improved our infant mortality rate.”

Before ending his speech, Gray touched on the success of the District’s educational system so far, in addition to the improvements of most of the schools’ infrastructure and the return of vocational education into the school. “We are opening nine career and technical education academies. They will be in schools all across the city,” Gray said. “This means that kids who have dropped out of school because they couldn’t find themselves, will have a chance to find a curriculum that will teach them, and they will graduate from school, some wilI go on to college and they will be prepared to go on to work.”


Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO