by Jenny Frankl
What does getting your blood pressure taken, giving blood, getting a free flu shot, making veggie smoothies, picking up a few groceries, and taking a picture with your favorite Seahawks player all have in common?
These were all things you could check off your list at the Cliff Avril Health Fair on Saturday, September 2nd at the Rainier Beach Safeway between 10 AM – 2PM.
Inspired by Cliff Avril, this was the first health fair event the Cliff Avril Family Foundation planned in Seattle. Conceived in 2014, the foundation aims to increase the awareness of Type 2 diabetes in youth and encourage healthy living through nutrition and exercise.
“So far, the foundation has done a lot of events in Haiti, Charlotte, and Jacksonville. I wanted this event to be more local, so came up with the concept to bring these different resources together in Seattle,” described Avril. He first approached the Rainier Beach Safeway with the idea and then the rest just fell into place. “Safeway has been a great partner,” Avril said.
The hot mid-day sun was no deterrent for many Seahawks fans, eager to grab an autograph or selfie with the hometown heroes. While the Seahawk trio, Cliff Avril, Tyler Lockett, and Michael Bennett, drew the longest lines, the 25+ event vendors seized the opportunity to promote healthy living on behalf of their respective organizations.
Sima Samrawit, from the UW School of Nursing, was one of several nurses there representing the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurse Organization, an organization that provides financial aid and scholarships to students of African heritage who pursue a nursing career. The nursing team not only provided free blood pressure checks at the event, but educated people on tips for how to keep their blood pressure down.
“Drinking water is one of the most important things you can do to keep you your blood pressure in check,” Sima conveyed, as she subtly called attention to the neighboring Essentia Nation booth that was handing out water.
Among the other resource booths were Bloodworks Northwest, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Coordinated Care, Hepatitis Education Project, American Diabetes Association, A-Dec’s Dental van, and free flu shots from Safeway. Essentia Nation, Noosa Yoghurt, Peak Sherpa, and High J Orchards were among several of the vendors that provided free samples of their health-inspired products.
While healthy living was the binding ingredient, the event was every bit as much about bringing community together. Ted Evans, an outreach worker with YMCA’s Alive and Free, who attended the event with his 8-year-old son, saw the event as “a great way to see our city and enjoy our community.” Evans talked about the importance of youth being exposed to these types of events. “We want our youth to come up in a positive environment. What better way to give it to them than to bring them to things like this,” he said.
Jenny Frankl is a Rainier Beach resident who is passionate about building a more connected community. Often seen with a litter stick and a yellow bag in her hand, she is an enthusiastic volunteer for community clean-ups and other events that bring the community together. Formerly, a Neighborhood District Coordinator for SE Seattle with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, she continues to be an active in South Seattle through many projects/events, such as Rainier Beach Link 2 Lake, Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, and the Service Board (tSB).
featured photo by Jenny Frankl