Weekend health fair aims to ‘bridge the gap’ with free screenings, vaccines

Posted on 05 Apr 2013 at 9:56am
Derrick Spillman

Derrick Spillman

An Oak Lawn health fair and carnival Saturday will bring North and South Dallas together for health screenings and vaccines.

The Stay Strong Movement Heath Fair and Carnival at Walgreens on Cedar Springs Road is a collaborative effort that’s the first of its kind. It came together out of a need for a large health event in central Dallas, DFW Pride Movement Executive Director Derrick Spillman said.

“We just wanted to do something to bridge the gap for people who don’t have insurance and don’t get checkups,” he said.

Spillman helped oversee the planning of the event after coming up with the idea last year. DFW Pride Movement teamed up with the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and UT Southwestern Mobile Mammogram Unit to offer screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, body mass, HIV testing and STDs. LA Fitness will have fitness demonstrations and vaccines will also be offered for a fee for illnesses, including the flu, meningitis, tetanus, hepatitis and others.

Spillman said an estimated 50 retail vendors and 20 agencies and organizations will be at the carnival, along with activities for children. He said the goal is to connect people to the resources in the community they may need and encourage them to be health conscious.

“We just felt that this was something that was needed and had never been done,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the event be an annual gathering. “We’re doing it this year and taking it from there.”

Lesbian activist Cd Kirven said the event was helping end healthcare disparities among the LGBT community and other minority groups and would serve as a “lifeline” to those who need care and information.

“It is important to us as leaders in the African-American LGBT community that we help bridge the gap in health disparities among people of color within our community,” she said.  “It is equally important that we work with the community at large to address the lack of health care among people of color.”

Spillman said the groups wanted to have it at Walgreens because the management has worked with the LGBT community before and it was a central location to bring all of Dallas together.

James Ross, Walgreens manager, said he wanted to help the community have access to healthcare.

“With the steady rise in health care cost, I feel it was the right thing to do, to give back to a community that has given Walgreens so much support,” he said.

Felicia Flye-Lewis, HIV prevention program manager at the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas, said she wanted to work with DFW Pride Movement to spread out her organization’s reach in Dallas.

“We’re showing that we are coming together for a wonderful collaboration and we can better serve the community together,” she said.

Flye-Lewis said she hopes people will take advantage of the free tests and screenings, while also knowing that resources will be there for them if they test positive for anything.

“More than anything, I hope that people see unity,” she said. “We have wonderful services that are free and available throughout the city. I hope they use these services.”

Stay Strong Movement Heath Fair and Carnival, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 6 at Walgreens, 3802 Cedar Springs Road. For more information, go here or email derrickdfwpride@gmail.com. 

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