Aurora health fair offers wide-ranging services to the community

A health fair in Aurora Saturday called “Healthy Mind, Body and Soul” put an emphasis on a holistic approach to health care.

The 15th annual health fair, at Prisco Community Center in Aurora, was sponsored by the Kane County Health Department, in partnership with the Aurora African American Health Coalition and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

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For three hours, the fair dubbed “Healthy Mind, Body and Soul” offered a range of immunizations and vaccines, as well as speakers, vendors, activities for children, giveaways, fitness demonstrations, no-cost health screenings and more.

Temeka Booker of Naperville and her daughter Zoey Bishop, 13, came to the health fair and said while they were offering a fitness demonstration and a Zumba class, Booker was also there to get some health issues checked out.

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“We’re here to get a full panel work-up. I haven’t been to the doctor in a while and I’m getting a whole work-up today,” Booker said. “It’s been more than a year since I’ve seen anyone. Normally I’m at the doctor and getting everything checked out. I think overall things look pretty good but I haven’t been to the doctor in too long because of COVID.”

Zoey said she was going to get her blood pressure checked “as well as a couple of other screenings.”

“We’re both very excited,” Booker said.

Organizers said it was “wonderful to have the fair back” after things were impacted the past few years due to the pandemic.

Cynthia Miller, president of the Aurora African American Health Coalition, said the 15 years of offering the fair “got here fast, but the last two years we’ve not been able to do anything because of the pandemic.”

“This today is really a grand thing, to see the people come out and be able to be here,” Miller said Saturday.

Clayton Muhammad, chief communications and equity officer for the city of Aurora, said the 15 years of offering the fair has produced a great deal of growth and changes.

“When we started this, I remember when it first began we were looking at providing an opportunity for the Black community and its health needs specifically for that community and individuals,” he said. “The city is a proud sponsor and the growth – the whole theme of mind and body and soul – really shows the growth of health care and focus over the years and that we do understand now it’s more than just physical health.”

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Muhammad said there is now “a spiritual component” as well as “a mental component and mental health and its impact on total health that is a focus more than ever before.”

“We talk about mental health and therapy and counseling and topics that are much more talked about and accepted than ever before,” he said. “We’re excited for this day and know there are areas particularly in health where the Black community is disproportionately impacted or represented in a number of categories from hypertension to diabetes to different cancers. The health fair allows those conversations to be had – not in a taboo way, but in an open, frank and honest discussion.”

Joyce Sutton of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, said she came to Aurora to visit her sister and that this was the second time she has actually visited the health fair.

“I came to one fair a couple of years ago before and it was very nice,” she said. “I’m getting my COVID booster today and I think it is so, so helpful having the city and local organizations offering this. It’s informative and everybody should come out to see what’s going on at a health fair and get their conditions checked.”

Vanessa Thomas of Lindenwood was getting a full blood panel work-up and said she has visited the fair before.

Her technician, Christopher Lopez of Empower Health Services, said Thomas “would get a total of 57 different blood tests” and that results would be available “online in two days.”

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“We expect to see about 100 people getting their blood panel work-up today,” he said. “We’ll have to see coming out of COVID how things go.”

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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