Gospel Fest helps raise awareness

Wednesday, June 4th 2008, 11:15 pm
By: News 9

By Christian Price, News9.com INsite Team

African-Americans have a greater chance to suffer from a stroke than any other racial group in the United States, according to medical studies.

INTEGRIS Health along with the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association sponsored the first annual Power To End Stroke Gospel Festival this past weekend at Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

The festival is part of the church's ongoing efforts to educate the public about the warning signs of a stroke and how people can prevent getting a stroke.

Zora Brown with INTEGRIS Health said knowledge is the key to preventing strokes.

"Not much of what we know about many of these diseases is being passed on to the general public," Brown said. "That's where we figure a major education awareness campaign is absolutely necessary, and it has to be on going."

There are many risk factors that contribute to a stroke, Brown said.

"Diet plays a major role. We know that an increase of sodium and those kinds of things in a diet can really increase your incidents for stroke," Brown said. "We also know that smoking and lack of exercise can contribute."

Brown said that in the black community, churches are utilized as a vehicle to disseminate information.

Constance Johnson, a state senator and Power To End Stroke ambassador, agreed with Brown that a gospel festival helps bring awareness to many at once.

"It's a national awareness campaign that we're very excited about," Johnson said. "It literally is about getting word to just one person and that person telling another person, and that's where we'll raise awareness."

A myriad of artists will perform at the festival Saturday night. Gospel choirs and pantomime groups take turns on stage all in efforts to raise stroke awareness.

"People have the power within themselves to end this insidious situation that strikes so many of our people," Johnson said.

In the continuing efforts to inform about and to prevent strokes, a community health fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. The fair is free along with cholesterol, blood pressure screenings and stroke risk assessments. For more information call (405) 478-3344.