Expo offers health awareness for Black community

Published 4:34 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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It was a weekend afternoon filled with fun and health education for Suffolk’s Black community to provide awareness and resources on topics such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure and mental illness.

The Links Inc. an international non-profit organization, held its first Black Family Wellness Expo Saturday, March 18 at the East Suffolk Recreation Center. 

Vendors such as the National Kidney Foundation, Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Western Tidewater Community Services Board came out to provide support and information to the community. 

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The Links Suffolk Chapter program chair Katherine Davis discussed how the event came about.

“There’s so many disparities within the Black community,” Davis said. “This is a national event going on. There are thousands of Links Chapters around the country who are doing the same thing today.”

Davis said the Suffolk chapter serves the city, along with Isle of Wight, Surrey and Southampton counties and the City Franklin. But because of the chapter’s location, she said they decided to do this first-time event in Suffolk. 

“This is the very first time that The Links nationally has focused on such a big event like Black wellness,” she said.

Suffolk Chapter President Vicki C. Wiggins-Pittman said the group is honored that the City of Suffolk provided the venue for the expo.

“We’re open to the community because we want to make sure the community has available resources  and knowledge on how to access those resources. It’s so important,” Wiggins-Pittman expressed. “We are focusing on health care and that also incompasses mental health, which is so vital to our community. So we want to make sure that we have ample resources available and also housing is a concern.”

She said they also are working on important issues such as food security in their service area.

Wiggins-Pittman emphasized the hope that Saturday’s expo “would be the first, but not the last.”

The Links wants to develop partnerships to ensure communities are well-rounded in terms of knowledge and access to their events.

“It all comes down to resources,” Wiggins-Pittman said. “If you don’t know, then you don’t know how to access those resources. So it’s our task today to ensure that the communities are aware of the visibility.”