New York's Apollo Theater and Health Providers Sponsor Health Fairs for Harlem Residents
The Apollo Theater Foundation, in partnership with North General Hospital and Affinity Health Plan, sponsored a series of health fairs for Harlem residents.
- Apollo and its health care partners sponsored four health fairs; one each focusing on childhood obesity; senior health; kidney disease, and organ and blood donation; and family health.
- Approximately 5,800 persons attended the fairs and health care workers conducted 725 health screenings for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, glaucoma, dental and gum disease, and other health problems.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $20,000 as partial support for this project from October 2004 through September 2005.
In 2003, residents of Harlem suffered from more illness and died at younger ages than the population of New York City overall, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Furthermore, residents of low-income, minority communities such as Harlem often lack access to health screening and education. Such information might enable them to access health services that would prevent or treat illnesses in earlier, less severe stages instead of waiting until health problems become serious.
Neighborhood health fairs can provide communities with information to encourage residents to access health services for early diagnosis of health problems and health maintenance.
This project supported RWJF's goal of promoting healthy communities and lifestyles.
The Apollo Theater Foundation was established in 1991 as a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and development of Harlem's Apollo Theater, a historic landmark known for its jazz performances. As an entertainment venue, it has expertise in attracting members of the community to its events. Project staff recruited performing artists and local celebrities, such as music groups and athletes, to entertain at the four health fairs.
Project staff invited two local health providers nearby North General Hospital and Affinity Health Plan to join Apollo Theater Foundation in organizing and staffing the health fairs.
Project staff also recruited several health and advocacy organizations to participate in the health fairs, including:
- The New York City Department of Health
- The Harlem Directors Group, an HIV/AIDS advocacy and policy association
- The Breast Examination Center of Harlem
These groups helped identify and screen individuals at risk for various health problems and distributed various educational materials to people who attended the fairs.
Project staff held the first three fairs at the Apollo Theater in November and December 2004, and March 2005. Project staff held the fourth fair in June 2005 in Marcus Garvey Park, one block from the Apollo Theater. The four health fairs each featured a specific topic:
- Childhood obesity: Health educators explained how much sugar and fats are in the foods that children typically eat. They demonstrated simple exercises using dynabands (big strips of stretchable rubber bands) and jump ropes. Children who participated in the exercises got the dynabands to take home.
- Senior citizens' health: Fair organizers provided information on healthy nutrition, exercise demonstrations and free health screenings. They distributed tickets to a senior amateur night show at the theater as an incentive to attend the fair.
- Kidney disease and organ and blood donation: The goal of this fair was to raise awareness about the risk of kidney disease among people with high blood pressure and diabetes, and the need for organ and blood donations. New York Organ Donor Network and the New York City Blood Center participated in the education, health screening, and blood-collection efforts.
- Family health: Participating organizations provided health information and various free screenings. More than 1,000 Harlem residents registered and filled out a brief survey in which they indicated their greatest health needs.
For a short period after each fair, North General Hospital offered follow-up care to people identified with abnormal screenings.
Project staff and the partners publicized the fairs by:
- Distributing flyers in Spanish and English.
- Advertising in local newspapers.
- Placing public service announcements on local radio stations.
- Arranging for a guest on a popular medical radio show to discuss the forthcoming fairs.
- Marketing the fairs to the Apollo Theater's corporate sponsors and their employees.
RWJF provided a $20,000 grant. Other sources of support were:
- Citigroup Foundation, $45,000
- Affinity Health Plan, $15,000
- United Way of New York City, $10,000
- AARP New York, $5,000
- Colgate-Palmolive Company, $2,500.
Project staff reported the following results:
- Approximately 5,800 persons attended the fairs and health care workers conducted 725 health screenings.
- About 1,000 people attended the fair on childhood obesity. Health care workers screened 12 children for high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Project staff thought the low number of screenings might be attributed to the low number of adult chaperones accompanying the children.
- Approximately 800 people attended the senior citizen fair. Health care workers screened 75 people for certain types of cancer, diabetes, glaucoma and dental hygiene.
- About 1,000 people participated in the kidney disease and organ and blood donation fair. Health care workers collected nine pints of blood and screened 25 people for high blood sugar and high blood pressure.
- The family health fair had approximately 3,000 participants. Health care workers offered screenings for breast cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, hepatitis C, glaucoma, high blood sugar and dental hygiene. They screened a total of 588 people. Project staff attributed the high attendance in part to the good weather during this outdoor fair.
AFTER THE GRANT
Apollo Theater Foundation planned to continue to sponsor four health fairs each year. As of April 2006 it had secured funding for the fairs through the end of 2006.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Providing Inner-City Residents Access to Health Screenings, Information, Workshops, and Demonstrations Through Community Health Fairs
The Apollo Theater Foundation (New York, NY)
Dates: October 2004 to September 2005
Report prepared by: Rebecca M. Loew
Reviewed by: Janet Heroux
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Floyd K. Morris