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Health Department festivals educate Hollywood, Brighton

Health Fair01More than 600 people learned about healthy living at health festivals May 28 at the Veterans Building in Brighton and June 9 at the Classic Gym in Hollywood. Sponsored by the Health Department, the events offered a comprehensive education about health to Tribal members and employees.

“Sometimes people don’t come to the Health Department, so we do screenings here,” said Suzanne Davis, Allied Health Program manager. “Sometimes we catch things. If you can alert them to it, that’s a big deal.”

Screenings included blood sugar, blood pressure and body mass index. More than 35 health-related vendors and tribal departments set up booths chock-full of educational activities, literature and giveaways. Passports to health, which had to be signed at each booth, were good for raffle tickets for prizes.

In Brighton, Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students moved through the festival eager to experience each booth, including the finger prick at the blood sugar screening table.

They learned throughout the process.

“Fat has more mass than muscle,” Deagon Osceola, 10, said. “If you are fat, you can’t do a lot of physical stuff and you’ll be lazy.”

“I learned they can use machines while you are asleep so you won’t stop breathing,” CeCe Thomas, 9, said, referring to a display that featured a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine used for sleep apnea.

Adults also learned how to stay healthy. John Huff, a diabetic with shoulder problems, learned ways to exercise without putting pressure on his shoulders and what food choices suit him best.

“I came to see what they had and how it could benefit my health,” Huff said. “There are a lot of unhealthy things going on in our community and this can help make it better.”

The Health Department hosts health fairs every few years.

“It’s more interactive this year,” said Health Department community outreach coordinator Edna McDuffie. “We try to make it informative. Our main objective is prevention.”

In Hollywood, a chiropractic vendor checked the spine of Neil Baxley, who found out he has poor posture.

“I never get back pain, but I might as well take care of it now while I can,” Baxley said. “I hope to get extra tools to help me in everyday life.”

Healthy snacks were available at many booths, but health nutritionist Lance Vaz took snacking to the next level. He offered a buffet of healthy snacks where participants made their own “snackables” with quinoa and brown rice crackers, sliced chicken breast, cheese, carrots and apples.

“There are more ways to be healthy than just drinking a lot of water and over-exerting yourself in a workout,” said Savannah Huggins, who attended the festival with her daughter Randelle Osceola, 16.

“I tried quinoa crackers for the first time; they were good,” Randelle said. “I’m going to be a lot more health conscious now.”

Paul Buster said he is grateful for all the Health Department does for the Tribe.

“The health staff is teaching us so we can live and be in good health for our children and grandchildren,” he said. “We need to take advantage of it, so we can live a better life.”

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at