HOIN Takes Health Campaign to the Streets

Valencia Mohammed | 10/28/2009, 11:43 a.m.

Nadine Winter never considers age when it comes to getting the word out to District residents about regular checkups. Winter walks the streets of the District€s underserved neighborhoods handing out information about how preventable some cancers are if detected early. She encourages individuals to have their blood pressure checked and talks to men about the importance of prostate screenings.

The 85-year-old health advocate withstood 100 degree heat during the 18th Annual Stone Soul Picnic in Northeast this summer just to encourage participants to be cognizant of keeping their hands clean. Winter leads by example: She handed out samples of hand sanitizers. Her idea worked so well, she now uses it to engage residents in conversations about the importance of health.
€I firmly believe that we can turn around the high death rate. But people must take their health in their own hands by exercising, eating right, not smoking and going to the doctor regularly,€ said Winter, a cancer survivor and founder and director of the Health Outreach Information Network (HOIN) in Southwest.

Tiwana Ellison, owner of Dazzles, a beauty salon in Northeast, said that she and her staff followed Winter€s lead and they now hand out samples of hand sanitizers to their clients. It helps to €break the ice€ to talk about more important issues, Ellison said.

€First, we might start talking about the Swine Flu and by the time we end up, a client might be calling a doctor€s office for a checkup,€ she said. €People, sometimes, just need strong encouragement. HOIN has trained us how to get our customers to open up,€ Ellison said.

Others agree.

Tina Godwin, 42, a nail technician and tattoo artist at Dazzles, said that she has been an active member of HOIN for 10 years.

€Our customers loved the idea of the hand sanitizers. In fact, they would remind us if we didn€t give them one,€ Godwin said.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2008, there were approximately 41 million African Americans. In 2007, there were more than 152,000 new cancer cases diagnosed among Blacks in America largely due to growth in the population and aging. The most commonly diagnosed cancers among African Americans continued to be prostate, lung and breast cancers.

A study from the American Cancer Society finds that while breast cancer death rates are decreasing for White women in every U.S. state, for African American women, death rates are either flat or rising in at least half of the states.

The staggering figures are the motivation behind HOIN€s vigorous street campaign.

Moslyn McMurren, 41, distributor of Legacy Hair Products, said the sanitizer comes in handy as he travels from one salon to the next marketing his products.

€I haven€t seen any other salon like Dazzles with outreach like this or an activist like Ms. Winter eagerly encouraging people to keep their hands clean and to go to the doctor before it€s too late,€ McMurren said.

Winter approached a young woman who was smoking a cigarette as she walked by the salon.

€Young lady, put that cigarette down, it could kill you,€ Winter said adamantly.

€I know, you€re right Ms. Winter but I can€t stop,€ the young woman said as she disposed of the cigarette.

Winter smiled and waited for the next opportunity to reach out to someone else who just might listen.

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