As community members filed into the historic 139-year-old St. James A.M.E. Church on Saturday, they joined together to reflect on their past history and more importantly, learn how to stay healthy for their future.
The church was host to a Black History Month celebration, complete with a health fair where medical screenings were provided free of charge. This is the second year for the church to have a Black History Month event.
Many of the speakers, including Sonya Johnson with the Denton County Health Department, encouraged the group to take control of their lives, free their mind, eat right and exercise.
“We [at the health department] tell all our moms going through our Women, Infants and Children [WIC] program to exercise at least three times a week,” Johnson said. “Go for a walk after dinner, go bowling, throw a ball around to your kids … just try something to get physically fit.”
The WIC program was funded in the 1970s throughout the United States by the Department of Agriculture, said Johnson, specialist of the program in Denton County. The program is now handled through individual states with federal assistance, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service website.
According to the state health website, WIC is a nutrition program that helps pregnant women, new mothers and young children eat well, learn about nutrition and stay healthy.
Johnson said there are four facilities that have on-site WIC stations in the county and she encouraged attendees to go. They are in Denton, Lewisville, Carrollton and The Colony.
Denton firefighters David Hickman and Davis Batson were on hand to demonstrate CPR techniques while emphasizing the importance and “how-to’s” of the life-saving measure.
“Training for CPR used to consist of more mouth-to-mouth, and now, chest compression is the common way to be taught,” Hickman said.
“During a study by the American Heart Association, 44 percent were more likely to do compression and only 24 percent were to perform mouth-to-mouth and that’s why it’s been changed. Nobody really wants to put their mouth on someone they don’t know,” Hickman said.
Anyone interested in learning CPR can do so by registering for a class with Denton Parks and Recreation. Classes are taught by the Denton Fire Department the last Saturday of each month.
Today’s festivities will focus on a more traditional approach. A gospel concert featuring area Denton choirs will be from 3 to 5 p.m. along with a soul-food dinner in the evening. Everyone is invited to the St. James A.M.E. Church, located at 1107 E. Oak St., to join in the festivities. African attire is welcomed.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.