Audrey Epperson, Director of Education & Training for the Greater Washington Urban League; Rodney King, Senior Health Policy Advisor for the D.C. Council; Korey Paff, Community Leader for Walgreens; George Lambert Jr., CEO and President of the Greater Washington Urban League

The Greater Washington Urban League and Walgreens kicked off a nationwide healthcare tour targeted to urban and minority communities June 11 to provide them with free access to health care resources.

“I’m delighted to be in the partnership with Walgreens,” George Lambert Jr., president and CEO of the Urban League told the AFRO after the kickoff presentation. “I’m a strong believer in partnerships and this is a very strong one, because they do put a spotlight on health.”

The “Way to Well Health” tour began its eighth year at the Urban League’s headquarters in Northwest D.C.

The tour included heart-healthy fitness routines; healthy food demonstrations; free health tests to detect chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes; assessments; education and consulting services. Participants also underwent cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, body composition, skeletal muscle, resting metabolism, visceral fat, real body age and body weight screenings.

Walgreens and the Urban League have provided over $10 million in free health tests to over 900 communities nationwide.

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Walgreens and the National Urban League Way to Well Tour state-of-the-art mobile health clinic.

According to the CDC, health disparities remain widespread among members of racial and ethnic minority populations, citing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes as the four leading causes in African American deaths in 2010.

“Many of the indexes that afflict us are behavior driven, so if people exercise more, if they ate the proper foods and were more mindful of good health practices, a lot of the conditions that afflict us would not,” Ronald King, senior policy advisor for the D.C. Council Committee on Health said.

He said the District is the second most insured jurisdiction in the country, after Massachusetts, but African American residents, even though insured, don’t seek healthcare treatment until the last moment.

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Chef Joel Thomas and Chef Josh Ford demonstrating how prepare a heart-healthy meal of salmon over roasted peppers and mango chutney

“Events like this are so very important to get the word out,” King said.

Walgreens’ Way to Well Health Tour, conducted on a bus, visited four locations in the metropolitan area, including a Walgreens’ store in Alexandria, Va. on June 12; Senior Clinton Manor in Clinton, Md. June 13; a Walgreens in Annandale, Va. June 14; and Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Northeast D.C. June 15.

The tour will continue throughout the country, stopping in several areas with large minority populations, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“We have a long-standing tradition of “community pharmacy” and believe that our pharmacists, stores and employees should be resources and partners in health and awareness in our communities,” Korey W. Paff, community leader of the Walgreens stores in Washington D.C., said at the kickoff.


LaTrina Antoine

Special to the AFRO