Last weekend, dozens of young men gathered in the Avondale Youth & Family Development Center to focus on improving both their mental and physical health.
The Brotherhood Health Brunch, organized by Cempa Community Care, featured yoga and discussions about health for more than 80 young people. The Feb. 22 event helped address health disparities in the black community, said LaDarius Price, Cempa community outreach manager.
“A lot of the things that our kids, our young men, deal with [involve] where really the world just does not understand who we are,” he said. “They don’t understand our culture, much of our background. And a lot of that plays into mental health and it plays into the things they deal with on a day-to-day basis. For a lot of our young men, they’re just really misunderstood.”
In Hamilton County, black people are nearly three times more likely to die from diabetes than white residents. Similar disparities exist with heart and kidney disease.
The event created a place and community for Chattanooga’s young men to discuss things they struggle with and learn from potential role models, Price said.
“It’s just one event but it gives young men a chance to be imparted to, to be poured into, to be heard, to be connected to resources, to find and meet other people who will truly love them and care about them,” Price said.
Ten adults helped guide the children throughout the day. They shared a meal, talked about nutrition, then worked on methods to improve emotional health, including doing yoga led by Johnny Martin of Young Yogaletts.
During the lesson, Martin led them through basic yoga postures and breathing techniques, he said. Often, he outlines how yoga can help them in areas they are familiar with, such as in the classroom on test day or on the field during crunch time. It is important the young men know how to identify and manage stress, Martin said.
“A lot of kids don’t understand what happens when their bodies tighten up, when they’re under stress,” he said.
Price said this was the first in a series of related events working with Chattanooga’s young men.
“It’s our job to put our kids in a situation where they can thrive and they can succeed with the different mentors and models being put in front of them,” Price said.
Source: The Times Free Press