July 14, 2017

Indiana Black Expo: Fun Pays Off Later In African-American Health Initiatives

Article origination WFYI-FM
Jake Harper/WFYI

Jake Harper/WFYI

This year’s Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration is in full swing. The event is the Expo organization’s biggest annual fundraiser, which runs through Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center.

It used to cost $8 to gain admission to the Expo’s Exhibition Hall — where many events, such as the Gospel Explosion and slam dunk contest, are held, but this year it’s free to enter.  

That means visitors will be able to attend what organizers call the world’s largest minority health fair free of charge. The fair offers over $2,000 worth of health screenings.

Expo President Tanya Bell says health is central to the nonprofit’s mission. The Summer Celebration is what gets the most buzz, but the Expo does work year-round.

“This is the fun stuff,” she says. “You get to see Johnny Gill, you get to see Taye Diggs, but what a lot of people don’t realize is this is a means to an end. This is our primary fundraiser in order to keep our doors open, so that we do those things, we focus on health, we focus on the social issues.”

Among other programs, the nonprofit conducts statewide smoking cessation campaigns and supports a mobile unit that provides prostate cancer screenings.

Bell says the health fair helps draw attention to disparities in the African American community, adding black Americans experience higher obesity and smoking rates.

“When you look from a health standpoint and from a social standpoint, not just health, those disparities still exist for us which is why it’s important for us to be here today,” she says.

Organizers warn drivers roads will be closed around the American Legion Mall just north of downtown Friday evening from 6 p.m. to midnight for the Expo’s music heritage festival.

This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a reporting collaborative based on public health.

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