For the first time in South Florida, a health expo will directly address the needs of LBT women of color. The Women of Color Health Expo takes place at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Several organizations have come together to bring this event to the community. They include Area Resource and Referral Organization for Women; Rainbow Ladies- Our Space; and Beta Phi Omega Sorority. In addition to health booths, visitors can enjoy food and entertainment. There is no cost to attend.
Dr. Nan Van Den Bergh, founder of ARROW and professor of social work at Florida International University, emphasizes the Expo “is open to all women…all families and allies of LBT women of color…regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation.”
Confirmed participants are Memorial Regional Hospital; Broward County Health Department; University of Miami Project Care, which supports Black women who have survived breast cancer; Women in Distress with information on same sex domestic violence; YWCA Family Wellness Program, and many others.
Services include breast exams, HIV testing, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings as well as information on low cost or no cost mammograms and Pap tests.
Explore complementary medicine with the Annie Appleseed Project, acupuncture physician and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Amy Sear, and instructors of yoga, tai chi and self-defense.
Van Den Bergh shares how the historic Expo became a reality: “Rainbow Ladies, a social and service organization for Black LBT females, contacted ARROW to organize a health fair.”
By training more than 200 health providers to work with the LBT women’s community and presenting health information at hundreds of community events over the past four years, ARROW has become an important local resource for LBT women’s health. Based on this commitment, ARROW received a Susan G. Komen Foundation grant for the Women of Color Health Expo.
“Hopefully this can be an annual event,” says Van Den Bergh. “However, there are many costs involved in addition to the 100 percent volunteer time on the part of ARROW, Rainbow Ladies and Beta Phi Omega Sorority.”
Rainbow Ladies and Beta Phi Omega focus on empowerment for LBT women of color and all women.
While the Rainbow Ladies’ mission is “to enrich the lives of…women and [their] allies through education, community involvement, health awareness and social networking.”
Beta Phi Omega works to build “a unified, unique, diverse…sisterhood.” The Expo reaches out to all communities that lack access to health care.
Yet Van Den Bergh underscores that “studies have found lesbian[s] have greater risks for breast cancer, gynecological cancer, lung cancer and cardio-vascular disease. Barriers to quality health care include [lack of] health insurance, lower incomes, and discrimination.”
How can we confront these barriers? ARROW offers training to health care providers on how to reach out to LBT women. Van Den Bergh also observes that “gay male organizations need to provide equal visibility and advocacy of LBT women’s health risks.”
Furthermore, she asks LBT women to “be proactive” by following medical guidelines for breast and Pap exams, regular exercise, as well as eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting alcohol intake.
Regardless of the debate over the health reform law, most Americans would agree that awareness and education are vital components to maintaining health. A visit to the Women of Color Health Expo could be an important step in that direction.
Women of Color Health Expo
2040 North Dixie Highway
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Saturday, September 24, 2011
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.