Fatherhood, Basketball, and Men’s Health in the Delta
“Fathers are such an important piece of the fabric that makes up a healthy family system.” That’s Tracy Mims, and he’s recruiting men to join a special fatherhood initiative of Delta Health Alliance.
Last month, he held a men’s health fair on the campus of Mississippi Valley State University, which included screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose, ADHD, depression, vision and hearing. “I’m very passionate about the importance of fatherhood,” said Mims. “And the health fair is just one of many ways we are connecting with dads. This is a jumping off point to recruit these men into our program, to help them become positive role models and fill a gap that exists in this area.”
The health fair included a basketball competition as a means “to get them excited about the program,” he said. Mims’ goal is to recruit 125 dads into the Delta Health Alliance initiative, which includes work sessions throughout the year that focus on:
- Getting involved with your children
- Discipline, rewards and punishment
- Recognizing and handling anger
- Balancing work and family
- Improving communication skills
- Expectations and children’s development
Fathers surveyed before and after the program indicated significant improvement in their attitudes and understanding about fathering.
Raena Topps, on the other hand, was more concerned about her own health than she was about walking into a men’s health fair for some screenings.
“I just wanted to get everything checked out,” said Topps, a Tunica resident and student at Rust College. “I was a little scared before, but your health is important and this is free.”
Topps, who said she was concerned about recent weight she’s gained, breathed a sigh of relief when she received a normal score on her blood glucose screening.
“We have a lot of health problems in the Delta. We live in rural communities where we don’t have as much fresh fruits and vegetables available, so it can be harder to stay healthy,” she said. “These health fairs are important to be able to get your health checked out.”
The health fair also provided services to help foster a healthier community as a whole, such as mental health and drug addiction resources offered by the Region One Mental Health Center’s preventive services division.
“We work with children ages 12-25 with addiction and drug prevention, and prescription drug abuse,” said Crystal Evans with Region One. “Opioid addiction is on the rise and so there is a greater need for awareness and prevention.”
Evans said health fairs such as this “let people know that there’s help available and that they don’t have to fight this battle by themselves.”