Pittman encourages story of black history, and the future
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Published: 04-Feb-2010

Legislative Staff Release


State Rep. Anastasia Pittman wants to encourage Oklahomans to attend a series of Black Heritage Month events that will focus on raising the awareness of health and economic challenges facing the African-American community.

“I believe that in celebration of our Black Heritage Month, one of our primary focuses this year will not just be on our history, but also on our future,” Pittman, an Oklahoma City Democrat, said. “We’re raising health as a component to focus on having a healthier future.”

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative designed to encourage black Americans to get educated, tested, involved and treated for HIV/AIDS, is Sunday, February 7 at 7 p.m. Tomorrow (February 5), the “Essentials of SWAG” Step Show will take place at 100 N. University Drive in Edmond. Counselors from Guiding Right, Inc. will offer free and confidential Rapid HIV counseling and testing from 4 to 
6 p.m. During the event, HIV/AIDS materials and facts will be disseminated.

In Oklahoma, African Americans account for 24 percent of AIDS cases despite representing just eight percent of the total population. African Americans also account for 34 percent of the state’s HIV infections. “In order to address this preventable disease we as health educators have to do a better job of educating members of our communities to get tested,” said Nina Johnson, M.S., Prevention Coordinator of Guiding Right, Inc..

For more information, contact Jeff Robbins at (405) 228-9545 or jrobbins@arcok.org or Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771, extension 305 or njohnson@guidingright.org.

Classes geared towards diabetes prevention and weight loss will be held from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. February 7 at the JOY Clinic, 1001 N. Pennsylvania Avenue and from 11 a.m. to noon February 13 at the Ralph Ellison Library, 2000 N.E. 23rd Street.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department will be hosting a H1N1 flu drive targeting minorities 2 to 7 p.m. February 13 at 921 N.E. 23rd Street in Oklahoma City. Alicia Smith, a tobacco use prevention outreach coordinator, said that minorities have both the highest rate of hospitalization and the lowest rate of vaccination.

“The focus of this event is to protect our communities and support our families,” Smith said. “If we don’t get vaccinated, we can’t protect our children, elders and spouses from viruses like the H1N1 virus.”

Pittman noted that not only do vaccinations protect our families and communities, but also our workplaces and economy: “It goes beyond families when we talk about immunizations. If people come to work sick, then we jeopardize our coworkers and even our economic future.”

“Our Community, Our Health” will be the theme of a February 20 Black Heritage Month event held from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Fourth Floor Rotunda of the state Capitol. It’s focus – raising awareness in the African-American community about tobacco use cessation and prevention.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department and the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health will conduct focus groups from 4 to 6 p.m. at the state Capitol, following the “Our Community, Our Health” event.  “We are looking for young adults age 18 to 29, who began smoking regularly as adults,” Smith said.

Also on February 20, a Black History Month Health Fair will be hosted by the Sisterhood of African American Students (SAAS) of Oklahoma City University. The event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Ralph Ellison Library and will feature the Oklahoma Blood Institute, Guiding Right, Ocean Dental and the Oklahoma City University School of Nursing.

“Child Abuse Prevention Day” will be held at the state Capitol on February 23 For more information, call (405) 271-7611 or visit www.okcountykids.org.

Pittman said that over 6,000 jobs are still available to help with Census 2010 in the Oklahoma City area.  More positions are available in other areas of the state to include: Enid, Tulsa, and Lawton.  To take advantage of these positions, call (405) 254-9140 or (866) 861-2010. Census 2010 is also looking for partners with faith-based community members. For more information, call (405) 816-0534 or e-mail nina.ellison@census.gov.

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