By Tina Dirmann
staff writer for BCBSLA Foundation
For almost a whole year now, we’ve watched what can be accomplished when our Challenge Grant partners band together. And that spirit of “togetherness” was on full display again on Saturday, when two of our grantee partners– Fresh Beginnings and Capital Areas Pathway Project — took part in Healthy BR’s Health Truck Round-Up event at Gloryland Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.
Mobile units from 10 organizations gathered in the church’s parking lot, offering free health-related services to anyone in the community. So who was there? Pretty much everyone who is anyone in the world of mobile health and fitness. Among them: Lifeshare Blood Van, DARE Van, Our Lady of the Lake’s “Big Blue Bus” (Children’s Mobile Health Unit), the Fire Department, Betty’s Hope Children’s Bereavement Unit, Mary Bird Perkins – OLOL Cancer Center Mobile Education Unit… And, of course, our 2 brand-spanking-sparkly-new Challenge Grant sponsored trucks: BREC on the Geaux’s Mobile Recreation Unit (CAPP) and Breada’s Red Stick Mobile Farmers Market (Fresh Beginnings).
“Nothing says summer like fresh watermelon,” said Jeff L Soileau, a health educator for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, as he scooped up servings of fresh fruit salad at the Red Stick Mobile Market tent. A steady line
grew beyond the tent, as participants couldn’t wait to sample his mix of watermelon, blueberries, mint, lime and honey. “And all this fruit came from right here! This is the kind of food you get at our local farmers market.”
Soileau paused to comment on how great it was to see so many health organizations working together.
“By putting all these together, we can really act as one big team to increase health knowledge in our community,” he said.
And it was a delight to see little 6 year old Rae’Mond Know taking advantage of the services, finishing up a little watermelon salad (and drawing — see pic) before heading to the Big Blue Bus for a vision hearing and screening.
“You know, in school, they test for this stuff, but not until the second grade,” said Gwenth Georgetown, grandmother to Rae’Mond, a first grader this next school year. “But he’s had some trouble reading and we just want to make sure this isn’t part of the problem.”
Meanwhile, 12 year old Jason Collins could care less that that it was hot as blazes outside, humidity thick in the air (it is summer in Louisiana, after all)! He took the opportunity to play with wild abandon at the Brec on the Geaux station, dribbling a basketball and running across a field strewn with fitness equipment for kids.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Tanja Foil, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employee, there to promote out Louisiana 2 Step (eat right, move more!) program. “So many folks are here, from small kids to seniors and all ages in-between. And the number of people out here shows just how much interest people have in good health… And look at all the organizations that showed up! It looks like almost all of Baton Rouge health organizations are represented here today. It shows we all recognize the urgent need to address the health problems we’re facing in Louisiana.”
Nearly 30 additional non-profit participants set up information tables inside the church, including an “Ask the Doctors” table (staffed with a panel of MDs), Just Kids Dental, American Heat Association, Southern Ag Center, Sisters Supporting Sisters, Wellcare Health Plans, Southern Care Hospice, HIV/AIDS Alliance, LSU Ag Center and Pennington Biomedical Research Center (another Challenge Grant partner).
Rounding out the day was music from a nearby gospel tent and several healthy cooking demonstrations!