Health experts and informational booths blanketed the Grand Ballroom Wednesday for the Second Annual Rattler Health Initiative. The event was aimed at informing the student body of the health issues that plague both college campuses and the black community.
“Our aim was to promote health awareness for the students of FAMU,” said Tony Pearson, a biology/pre-med student and the principal organizer and creator of the event.
This year’s theme was “The Mission, The Manpower and The Movement,” and program facilitators gathered some of Florida’s most renowned experts to drive the importance of the mission. Speakers and presenters for the event included SGA President Virgil Miller, Senate President Ramon Alexander, Sheila Morris of the Leon County Health Department and Perry Brown of the Institute of Public Health.
“It’s extremely important that our university population is educated about the health issues in their community so that they can go out and educate others,” Alexander said.
Students and speakers were encouraged to walk through the ballroom and peruse the informational tables. Special attention was paid to health concerns that affect the black community at above average rates, including diabetes and sickle cell anemia.
“The black community suffers from several health disparities and, in many cases, are on the extreme end,” Pearson said.
Mobile stations were available during the event for STD testing and blood donation. Over 45 presenters set up booths, offering literature and other information on a variety of health issues. Organizers hope to give students the tools they need to address their own personal health issues.
“This year we offered a wealth of information for the student body to benefit from. We want students to be able to actively deal with their problems,” Event Chairperson Jennifer Smith said.
The event has expanded a great deal since last year and expectations have grown for organizers.
Plans have already begun to solidify the Rattler Health Initiative as a staple event on the FAMU campus. A protocol is being created so that future student organizers will be equipped to continue the vision of Pearson and other event organizers.
“This was Tony’s brainchild. It started with 25 tables and now we have 45,” Smith said.
In two years, the Rattler Health Initiative has created an informative climate at FAMU, and the program’s effectiveness has been felt throughout the Tallahassee area. Many of the organizations present last year returned to deliver their information again.
“They come and they thank us for allowing them to come out and spread their message again,” Smith said.
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