Sports is known as a way for men to bond and get together. Darrell Barnett has taken that idea a step further. He is using basketball to reach Black men and improve their health. Barnett is with the Public Health Department Health Equity Unit. I heard about and had to share information about this great program he’s doing to assist men, especially Black men, to get their blood pressure checked and screening for other related diseases such as Diabetes.

Barnett began the Basketball league because most men do not go see their doctor until they are very sick, by then whatever they have, may be too late for treatment. Most men know about getting their blood pressure check annually but they don’t make time to get it done. So to reach the Black men in the the community, Barnett teamed up with churches, Heart 360 and the Heart Association and created a basketball league. The main mission is to have the men get their blood pressure check and receive education on diabetes and other related illnesses that affect Black males.

There is no cost to become a part of the league, no cost to play. The only guideline is to agree to have a blood pressure check at the beginning of the league and at the end. Team photo Darrell index

Educational brochures about Diabetes and Strokes will be made available to them through informal conversation. It is a six week league which started in January of this year. At the end of the six weeks, a comparison will be made between the first blood pressure check and the last to show the men how their numbers have changed and improved. It is the first step to a healthier lifestyle.

Barnett chose basketball as the tool to reach black men because he is athletic and “God gave me the ability to go to college on a basketball scholarship. I love basketball and I can play with men my age and finding a basketball court is easy to find,”he stated. The second reason with gyms being all around town, it is easy to sell because all you need is a gym and guys identify with basketball. The churches are used to reach the men. The church is the largest audience to reach people in the black community.

The thing to remember is the mission, and that is to reach Black males and help them get more involved with staying on top of their health.

What the Black community needs to know about our health is Diabetes is a big medical concern.  If you take medications and it doesn’t work, contact your doctor, go back and get it changed.  We know that the Black community has a history of not trusting doctors, but we have to work with our doctors, ask questions and get the information needed to have better health. We need to eat healthy and get our cholesterol checked regularly. If you have a blood pressure cuff and monitor at home check your blood pressure  regularly as well. If there is any significant change, see your doctor. Picture of Lisa & Darrell

The future of the Check. Change. Control is to reach more men. Have them to check their blood pressure and glucose regularly and start eating healthy. It is important to remember it is important for us to do better in taking care of our bodies. We have to educate ourselves and get checked routinely for things such as high blood pressure, and Diabetes so we can prevent the worse.

Check. Change. Control.

For more information you can reach Darrell Barnett at darrell.barnett@austintexas.gov and http://www.heart.org.

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Damita Miller-Shanklin
Ujima Magazine