Third-annual community wellness walk is Aug. 15

If you’ve missed out on participating in the African American Male Wellness Walk, you get another chance to participate in the 5K walk/run beginning at 7 a.m. Aug. 15 at the Covelli Centre on Front Street in downtown Youngstown.

This is the third year for the event in the Youngstown-Warren area, and walks also will take place the same day in Columbus, Toledo, Niagara Falls, N.Y., Detroit, and Silver Springs, Md.

The point person for the local event the past three years has been the Rev. Lewis Macklin, pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s South Side.

Planning for the event has been ongoing for several months. Clergy and faith leaders have been urged to encourage their members to distribute cards about the event and make announcements from the pulpit or by the church clerk.

The Rev. Mr. Macklin said the AAMWW has three main screening goals to improve the health of the urban community by:

Promoting exercise.

Encouraging men to “know their numbers” – that is, blood pressure, blood glucose, height, weight, body-mass index, and body fat percentage.

Increasing the number of men who visit a doctor annually.

The screenings begin promptly at 7 a.m., and it is the critical piece of the event because black men, in particular, are at greater risk for health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, prostate cancer and stroke.

Thanks to the efforts of Mercy Health, men will get blood-pressure tests, cholesterol and prostate screenings and referrals for HIV testing. Special thanks also go to Man-Up Mahoning Valley, which encourages all men to get prostate checkups in the effort to catch possible cancer early.

“We are able to accommodate literally hundreds of men for prostate screenings,” Mr. Macklin said.

It is also ideal, but not required, for those who are going to be screened to consider fasting for best results. The AAMWW committee will have energy bars and fresh fruits for participants.

The event also provides men with plenty of wellness information.

I have shared in this column that a prostate screening in 2013 determined I had cancer. Because of the early diagnosis, I was able, with the help of my urologist, to map out a treatment plan that would be of the most benefit to me and my family. I chose robotic surgery that year, and I can report that subsequent follow-up tests have shown that I have no trace of cancer. Praise God.

The theme of this year’s event is “Healthy Men Make Healthy Families.”

All men participating will be challenged to set the example for their families by taking charge of their health, Mr. Macklin added.

You have three options to navigate the 5-mile event, which will begin at 9 a.m. You can walk, run or use your bicycle. The goal is to get you moving.

Last year, the course took participants through the South Side. This year, the course will take you along Andrews Avenue to East Side streets and return to the Covelli Centre.

This year’s Healthy Hero award recipients are Youngstown native Brandon Perry, the founder of City Kids Care, and Jack Thornton Jr. of the Warren Striders Track Club. These awards will be presented during the opening ceremony.

Families, churches and civic groups are welcomed and encouraged to create walking teams. Some may wear T-shirts to showcase their association.

After the walk, participants will return to the center for entertainment featuring line dancing and Zumba sessions among other activities.

The children will not be left out. Returning for its second year is the Our Kids Stay Well Walk Village. The village also is dedicated to promoting good health habits.

Staff from Akron Children’s Hospital, the city’s health department and NOW Youngstown will oversee children-centered activities.

There also will be several dozen vendors at the center to distribute health-related information to all participants.

There will be cooking demonstrations, giveaways for children and more.

Thousands participated in 2014, and walk organizers are anticipating another large turnout this year.

For additional information, registration, sponsorships or if you want to volunteer, call the AAMWW office at 330-788-1696, or 330-744-9070.

This is truly something good going on in our neighborhood. It is free, it promotes good health and it can serve as an inspiration for children to see their fathers, uncles and grandfathers being proactive in their health care.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at