To celebrate National Health Center Week - held annually on the second week of August - some South Los Angeles residents will take to the streets on Wednesday for a walk between local community clinics.
The two-mile walk, which honors the health centers that are a primary source of care for many in South L.A., is hosted by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers and the Empowerment Congress.
The walk marks the first time Ridley-Thomas' office or the Southside Coalition, which represents eight clinics in the region, has held an event for National Health Center Week. Its goals are two-fold, said Nina Vaccaro, the executive director for the Southside Coalition - to increase residents’ knowledge about health care offered at community clinics, and to make people aware of the kinds of health problems that exist on the southside.
“We just wanted to try something different than the average health fair,” said Yolanda Rogers, the program supervisor for the Southside Coalition. “It gets folks out and promotes fitness by taking a walk together - something that hasn’t been done in the community before.”
Anywhere from 50 to 100 people are anticipated to come out to the walk. Ridley-Thomas, whose office has made an effort in the past two years to promote healthy living in Los Angeles, will also walk the two miles alongside residents, said Salya Mohamedy, an assistant health deputy for the supervisor.
If successful, Wednesday’s walk could become an annual - or even monthly - event, Vaccaro said.
“We don’t have a lot of places where we can exercise and play in South L.A. that are safe,” she said. “We know we are a little bit safer when we walk in a group - this might be the start to some group walks.”
Following the walk, a number of health services will be offered in the park, including blood pressure screenings, HIV testing and a healthy cooking demonstration. Community clinics will set up booths and provide information to residents about the kinds of health care they offer.
On Monday, South Central Family Health Center, which is also in the Southside Coalition, held a voter registration drive to mark National Health Center Week.
St. John's Well Child and Family Center is located at 5701 South Hoover Street; UMMA Community Clinic is located at 711 West Florence Avenue. The event starts at 9 a.m. and is expected to end around 1 p.m.