Black Barbershop Health Initiative Offers Free Screenings for Men of Color

Apr 7, 2014

42 year old Marcus Wilkes gets his blood sugar tested at Unity Barbershop in Fort Wayne.
Credit Virginia Alvino / WBOI News

Many black men throughout Indiana going to get a haircut this weekend were also able to receive a free health screening. The 4th annual Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative was held Saturday across the state.  

According to the Indiana Department of Health, black men have the highest mortality rate of any racial group.And many don't go to the doctor. 

That's according to Foundation One. 

“In our community to be truthful, we’re just busy trying to really eat, survive," says One. "We don’t have extra money, high price of medical, so you neglect. It ain’t that you want to, you can’t afford to. Can’t afford to have insurance.”  

Foundation One cuts hair at Unity Barber Shop on Pontiac Street in Fort Wayne. He says he’s lost a lot of men in his family due to health conditions that could have been prevented.  

The Black Barbershop Initiative is sponsored by the Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males in partnership with a number of community organizations. Volunteers spent the day Saturday in barbershops throughout the city, working to raise general health awareness. 

As volunteers checked blood pressure and blood sugar, they taught men the causes and warning sign of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Barber Foundation One says this simple step of learning about preventative care could save a lot of lives in the black community.