A participant at the health fair receives dental screening. Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations

By Emmanuel Freeman

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — At least 40 vendors from across the city participated in the Community Health and Wellness Fair at Tennessee State University on April 5.

Chiropractic care, dental screenings and HIV testing were just a few of the free services offered at the fair, which was a partnership between TSU, the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s HIV Vaccine Program, and the Turnip Truck, a natural foods grocer in Nashville.

Participants also received information on weight-loss management and nutrition, as well as fitness demonstrations and health screenings.

Dolly Patton-Thomas, executive director of the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, said the event was intended to motivate people to live healthier lives.

“The expectation was to bring the community together to let them understand the importance of health as well as the availability of nontraditional and traditional medicine,” Thomas said. “The partnership with TSU has been really great because they support us in getting the word out to the community, as well as supply the space. They do a lot for us and they put that message out there for a healthy lifestyle.”

TSU’s Dental Hygiene Department, which provided intra-oral screenings at the event, has been one of the main participants over the years.

Leon Roberts II, coordinator of clinics for the department, stressed the importance of taking care of oral hygiene because “it affects an individual’s whole health.”

“The mouth is the gateway to the body, so a lot of dental diseases don’t just affect the mouth,” he said. “Periodontal disease is connected to diabetes, heart disease, and for women who are pregnant, it is connected to low-birth weight babies.”

Sharronda Broughton is program specialist for Outreach STD/HIV Communicable Disease with Metro Public Health Department. She has been attending the fair for several years and is impressed with how much the yearly event has grown.

“We participate in the health fair to offer STD and HIV screening and awareness for the students, staff and for the community,” Broughton said. “Each year we see more and more participants. It looks like more people are now aware of what this event offers.”

Lalita Hodge, TSU coordinator of public relations and a member of the DP Thomas board of directors, also spoke about the growth of the fair. She announced the addition of Bounce TV-Nashville, Gilead Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., as new sponsors for the fair.

“It was important for people to come out to see what’s out there in health care with regards to traditional and nontraditional products and methods to keep us healthy, because our health is our wealth,” Hodge said.