WASHINGTON — It was a little idea that has grown into the big event.

Lisa Colbert was on her way to work one December morning when her neighbor, Gwendolyn Matthews, stopped her with an idea.

“We need to have a community health day,” she told Colbert, who was then vying for a spot on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

Matthews was so passionate about the idea that the concept stuck with Colbert, who in January became an ANC commissioner. After assuming office, she presented the idea to the commission, which adopted it.

So, on May 21, hundreds of residents from Ward 4 and the surrounding communities are expected to gather at Emery Recreation Center, 5701 Georgia Ave., for a day of fun, food, and most of all health during Petworth Community Health Awareness Day in Association with Howard University.

Dozens of Howard University physicians and health care professionals will provide free screenings and testing for a variety of health concerns – diabetes, blood pressure, obesity, HIV, dentistry, hearing and others issues.

Meanwhile, fitness and physical rehabilitation experts will demonstrate ways to reduce stress and improve health through massage and exercise.

Colbert said she is expecting as many as 800 people at the event.

There will be cooking demonstrations as chefs and local merchants show ways to prepare tasty and healthy foods. In addition, there will be lots of fun, prizes and games, including a hoola hoop contest and a fitness obstacle course.

“We’ve designed it so people can get their health checked and really get good health care information,” she said, “but it also has a lot of fun components. There’s something for everybody, kids, adults – everybody. So, it should be a really fun as well as educational.

“In the end, we hope it will increase the awareness of healthy eating and living habits and teach our people how to make more healthy choices instead of spending money on more frivolous items.”

Dr. Wayne Frederick, who oversees the Howard University Faculty Practice Plan, said Howard’s participation is part of the university’s ongoing effort to give back.

“We have never lost sight of our mission, which is to eliminate the health disparity between African-Americans and the large community,” Frederick said. “This is who we are.”

For additional information or to become a sponsor, contact Commissioner Lisa Colbert at or 202.200.0144.