COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Thousands of people gathered in Livingston Park Saturday morning for a walk and 5K to raise awareness for the mental and physical well-being of African American men.
The African American Male Wellness Agency (AAMWA) created the event 20 years ago for two reasons: to create a sense of community and to save Black lives.
“It’s a milestone that, collectively, our community did something together,” AAMWA founder John Gregory said. “Something positive, something powerful, and something that has meaning.”
It’s a feeling that extended to Saturday’s event, held in the city where the AAMWA was founded.
Saturday marked day one of a 15-city journey to better Black men’s health.
“Being able to come out here and support that, not only in my own family but for those who follow the same cause, to see how large this affinity group is, is amazing,” runner Brennan Waters said.
All throughout Livingston Park, the health of both men and women was prioritized through health screenings, food and drink, flu shots, financial resources, and the walk.
The events have become larger in recent years as the message has also created an initiative to help women of color.
“Uplift Her is our women’s initiative,” AAMWA Vice President Natalie Donnally said. “We have created it for women of color because we know women of color are four times more likely to die from breast cancer and heart disease.”
When the walk and 5K begin, everyone provides a sense of community. Whether it was words of encouragement, giving a high five as they pass, or handing out a water bottle, it’s that sense of comradery that makes the day so important to everyone involved.
The subject of men’s health is a topic the agency feels is never talked about enough. Even as events like these come and go, they want people to continue having these important conversations.
“Just share and have those conversations on a regular basis, you know?” AAMWA Coordinator Perry Jenkins said. “’Have you been screened? When’s the last time you’ve been to the doctor’s office?’ You know, those simple questions can spark a conversation.”
The agency’s next race is Aug. 19 in Cleveland. Back in Columbus, the AAMWA will hold its financial wellness summit on Oct. 19.