April was designated Minority Health Month in Ohio in 1989, 11 years before it became a nationwide event.
This year, central Ohio will play host to a variety of screenings, presentations, wellness fairs, ceremonies and workshops at venues throughout the area.
Some will be geared to specific populations; others will focus on health issues of concern to everyone.
For example, "Let's Talk: An African American Men's Guide to Prostate Health" will be presented from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 7, by Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence. It will be held at New Birth Christian Ministries, 3475 Refugee Road in southeast Columbus. It will be presented again April 28, at the same time and location.
Asian American Community Services, with offices in northwest Columbus, will sponsor "Educational Workshop About Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation" on April 14.
The program will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at 659 High St. in Worthington.
"We are part of the Ohio Minority Health Coalition," said Kathy Chen, executive director of Asian American Community Services.
"Every year we try to apply for grants to get funding to put on events about topics or hold screenings or outreach events to the broader community, not just Asians and Pacific Islanders."
"Minority Health Month encompasses a 30-day campaign of activities designed to interest and provide minorities with information," said Ryan E. Johnson, a program director with the Columbus Public Health Office of Minority Health, which is sponsoring many of the local events during April.
When the Ohio Commission on Minority Health established Minority Health Month almost three decades ago, Johnson said, five main goals were set:
* Provide crucial information to allow individuals to practice disease prevention.
* Promote healthful lifestyles.
* Showcase the providers of grassroots health care resources and information.
* Highlight the disparate health conditions between Ohio's minority and nonminority populations.
* Gain additional support for ongoing efforts to improve minority health year-round.
"We are really excited as we springboard into Minority Health Month for 2018," Johnson said.
Local events, he said, come about through the Office of Minority Health Advisory Committee, which is made up of nearly 50 organizations and agencies throughout the city.
This group, which meets six times a year, includes the Bhutanese Nepali Community of Columbus and Community Refugee and Immigration Services, both based in the Northland area; Otterbein University in Westerville; and Cancer Support Community Columbus on the Northwest Side.
"From that body, we coordinate different venues for Minority Health Month activities," Johnson said.
Sometimes, Minority Health Month events are a sort of added bonus for something that's already going on.
Jesus Ovalle, a program manager with the Office of Minority Health, said officials with the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis come to Columbus twice a year to help natives of that country living in central Ohio with documentation services.
For the past four or five years, Ovalle said Columbus Public Health has partnered with the consulate to include health screenings and health resources information during a visit this year.
It is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 7 and 8, at Columbus Public Health, 240 Parsons Ave.
"We know that people are going to come to get the services that they need, so we try to take advantage of that," Ovalle said.
Chen said grant money from the Ohio Commission on Minority Health barely covers the cost to her agency's April 14 workshop on elder abuse, which will be led by Shantha Balaswamy, an associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Social Work.
"The amount we receive is very small, but I look at this as an opportunity for us to engage with the community," Chen said. "It really is the opportunity to bring something that is an important issue to be addressed. I look at the impact."
A complete list of local Minority Health Month events is available at tinyurl.com/columbusminorityhealth.