08-20-14-umoja-festival.gif“Umoja” is the Swahili word for “unity” and is one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Establishing a sense of community in Fayetteville is essential, so the Umoja Festival will be held on Saturday, August 23 from noon to 7 p.m., at the Smith Recreation Center and Seabrook Park.

“We started back in 1989 and decided to participate in Kwanzaa to celebrate African-American history, arts and culture,“ said Dorothy Fielder, director of the Umoja Festival. “We decided that we needed an activity in the summertime that had a cultural component so we started the Umoja Festival.”

Fielder added that the event will feature storytellers, clothing and food vendors, drummers, dancers and collard green sandwiches. There will be a special performance from E. E. Smith High School and Fayetteville State University’s bands.

One of the highlights of the festival is a special health component.

“We will have two health-wise things going on at the Umoja Festival,“ said Darvin Jones, community health coordinator of Cape Fear Valley. “One is a health fair with 30 local community-based organizations and the other is a health clinic.”

Prevention and early detection improves outcomes. Four years ago, Cape Fear Valley approached the Umoja group about adding a health component to the festival. More than 30 social agencies will display resources ranging from medication assistance to free mammograms. The health clinic involves people calling in to make an appointment for health screenings: cholesterol, EKG, blood pressure, lung functioning, BMI, HIV, dental and blood glucose readings. This year, UNC’s Kidney Education Outreach Program’s Mobile Outreach Unit is part of the clinic conducting kidney function screenings and the blood mobile will be there for blood donations.

“Kidney screenings are very important in Black America due to the high prevalence of high blood pressure, diabetes or family members who may have a family member on dialysis” said Jones. “It is important for them to get screened.” Jones added that a hands-on CPR station and free haircuts for the kids are available if you participate in the health screenings. Agencies such as Better Health, The Care Clinic, Barber Kings, Sickle Cell and many others are a part of the clinic. The African Physicians Association of Fayetteville will interpret the health screenings.

“Last year we had about 1,500 people come through the health fair and we screened more than 250 patients,” said Jones. “We helped more than 70 patients find medical homes for folks who had high blood pressure.”

Jones added that this is a great resource in helping people find everything from medical supplies to their medication.

“My goal is for 2,000 people to come to the health fair and at least 300 of them are screened,” said Jones. “We are so happy because knowledge is power.”

Health screenings will take place from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free parking is at Fayetteville State University’s Capel Arena parking lot. The hospital’s shuttle bus will transport individuals to the Smith Recreation Center. For more information, to make a donation, volunteer, or to set up an appointment for a screening, call 615-5465.

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