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Dozens receive free health screenings at South Bend barbershop event

Dozens of South Bend residents received free health screenings at various barbershops throughout the city Saturday, as part of the Sixth Annual Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative.

“The barbershop, historically, is known as a place for men to come together, have good conversation,” Community Wellness Partners Executive Director Karl Nichols said. “Why not have those conversations about health and provide screenings for the men so they can find out what their numbers are?”

In between a trim and brush, customers inside six South Bend barbershops were able to get a free health screening Saturday.

“They’ll come in, they’ll register, they do a 10-question assessment on…how they feel their health is,” Nichols said. “Then they get their weight checked, they get a blood pressure check, a glucose check, and for each of those screenings, they get a raffle ticket for a gas card.”

Nichols runs the South Bend operation of the program, which pops up in more than one dozen Indiana cities throughout the month of April.

“Many people don’t have a medical home at all,” Nichols said. “And, as far as men go, we are resistant of going to the doctor, so this is a way just to be in a non-clinical setting for men to get checked out.”

Ray Curtis Jackson was one of those men, and he learned something during his screening Saturday afternoon.

“My blood pressure’s high!” Jackson said. “I gotta go see my doctor Monday anyway.”

Nichols said about 65 volunteers took part in Saturday’s event, ranging from medical experts to regular community members like Jessica Robinson.

“Everybody’s not aware,” Robinson said. “Everybody doesn’t have access to all the resources, so, you know, come to the barbershop! That’s something that everybody has to do, and so, hey, we’re here!”

And Nichols said being in a familiar setting like a barbershop helps the program grow, which is in its fifth year in South Bend and sixth year in Indiana.

“We always want it to continue to grow, every year,” Nichols said. “Usually, South Bend leads the state in the number of screenings that are conducted during this event. And really, just to build awareness on health issues among men and to get men connected to services if they need them.”

As of noon Saturday, Nichols said more than 80 people had been screened across South Bend.

The six barbershops that participated in Saturday’s event were Al’s House of Style, Wigfalls, Cutrageous Barbershop, Inspiration Barber Salon, Nu Image and Main Event Barbershop.

The initiative continues throughout the rest of April, with three Elkhart barbershops participating on Saturday, April 16: The Perfect Touch, Total Look and Lekres Hair Design & Barbershop.

Nichols said his organization, Community Wellness Partners, offers the same health screenings for free year-round. You can stop by the Community Wellness Partners office at 2806 Lincolnway West in South Bend, or you can swing by various events the group attends.

If you have received a screening or plan on receiving one, Nichols said three follow-up screenings are then scheduled to make sure your numbers improve and that you find a doctor and medical insurance, if need me.  

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