New Program to Launch King Holiday Observance
ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The King Center will officially launch the 2009 MLK Birthday Observance January 10, 2009 by hosting and co-sponsoring an exciting new program with life-saving potential, “The Health & Wellness Forum.” The program, which will be held at locations within the King Historic Site, is free of charge to the public.
The Health and Wellness Forum, co-sponsored by Aetna, will include a three-session “Town Hall Meeting” on health, nutrition, recreation and wellness, conducted by leading medical experts, for Metro Atlanta communities; a “Health and Wellness Fair” providing free medical tests and screenings and “The Children’s Nutrition Education & Physical Activity Expo by C.H.O.I.C.E.S.”
“We are delighted to join with Aetna in offering the Health and Wellness Fair as a unique contribution to health security in our community,” said King Center President and CEO Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. in announcing the program. “Health security is a very important component of the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream, and this program will make an annual contribution toward that goal.”
“Aetna is very pleased to join with the King Center in this vitally important effort,” said Cynthia Follmer, Aetna’s Georgia market president. “Raising awareness about serious illnesses like diabetes and obesity, which have been particularly harmful in the African American community, has been a long-standing concern for Aetna. We believe this project can make a positive difference toward improving health and wellness in the community.”
Noting a recent study by Georgia State University indicating that Georgia has the sixth-highest number of residents without insurance in the nation and ranks 11th in its percentage of the population lacking coverage, Elder Bernice A. King, chairperson of the Forum, explained, “Lack of access to adequate health coverage has reached crisis levels in the nation, and particularly in Georgia. To help address this challenge,” Rev. King added, “we will be offering, not only a wealth of life-saving information, but also free medical tests and screenings with a total value of more than $1,000.”
Targeting youth K-12, adults, educators and community leaders, participants will be screened and tested for cholesterol levels, blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, breast and skin cancer, lung capacity, asthma, dental health, vision and hearing. Organic donor information and chair massage will also be provided. The Town Hall meeting will provide life-saving information about childhood obesity, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma and other medical disparities to empower people to achieve better health, wellness and nutrition and help correct disparities in Atlanta communities.
In addition to Elder King, expected participants include: leading pediatric pulmonologists Ann-Marie Brooks and Dr. Leroy Graham; Dr. Victor Blake ; Dr. Valerie Beckles, pediatrician and Aetna’s South Florida Medical Director; Chef Marvin Woods; the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA; Clinical Pharmacist Dr. Nicole Metzger, Mercer University; Sickle Cell Foundation Genetic Counselor, Phillip J. Oliver; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Butler Street YMCA; C.H.O.I.C.E.S.; the Morehouse School of Medicine; the Everest Institute; VSNS, Merck & Co., Inc. and the Sickle Cells Foundation, along with other health care professionals and concerned institutions.
The Health and Wellness Forum will be followed by other major events in celebration of the King Holiday, including: “A King Celebration Concert” with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Jan. 15); the State of Georgia Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission Program (Jan. 16); the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Summit” (Jan. 15-19); the Annual “Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner” (Jan. 17) with Secretary of State nominee Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chick-fil-A Founder S. Truett Cathy; A Book Signing (Jan. 18) with Dr. Christine King Farris and Elder Bernice A. King and; the spiritual hallmark of America’s MLK Holiday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service in Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Horizon Sanctuary, with Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, Cal.) (Jan. 19)
The King Center
Steve Klein, 404-526-8944