The first-ever Hip-Hop Health Fair is coming to the Fox Valley on Saturday.
Hosted by People of Progression, the event will feature music by DJ Swoop and free food catered by Jerk Joint owner Tasha Banks. Free food boxes and teddy bears will be given away. Free COVID vaccines and boosters will be available, along with free workouts, blood pressure screening and more. Also on hand will be current and former college athletic players and coaches, as well as former USA Men’s National Team and Marquette University soccer star Hayden Knight.
The event will run from 10 am to 3 pm at Wisconsin Academy of Sports, 3375 West College Avenue, in Grand Chute.
“Those who enjoy hip hop culture, sports culture, and want to access free resources” will enjoy the Hip-Hop Health Fair, said People of Progression Project Coordinator & Director Kristen Gondek. The event will offer “barrier-free vaccinations and boosters, as well as barrier-free access to sports professionals that are experts in their field, college coaches who might be able to field any questions for kids who want to get into professional sports,” she said.
Gondek said the organization hopes to connect people with health resources in an environment that’s easy and fun – not always what people feel at the doctor’s office.
“The Hip-Hop Health Fair is basically addressing the need for the Black community to feel connected to mental health and public health resources,” she said. “We’re trying to look at the root causes of systemic oppression in the health field. And the way that we see it is we need to be outreaching already to young populations, so then, as they grow into adulthood, then they’re still using and being immersed into those resources. That really helps make it a welcoming space for our community to make it fun, and reach them in ways that they haven’t been reached before.”
She added that often, people’s first experience with mental health care especially comes in a negative context.
“A lot of times accessing mental health has been something that’s court ordered on to diverse populations,” she said. “That is actually a harmful way to be introduced to mental health. We’re trying to introduce mental health in a fun and entertaining environment in a way that is not harming our Black community.”
People of Progression was founded in 2020 to “call for the collective liberation of African Americans by empowering families with the tools, training, and supportive resources needed to organize and guarantee that their issues, concerns and values are represented in their communities,” according to its mission statement. The organization has already hosted a number of vaccination clinics and other events, and intends to host at least to Hip-Hop Health Fairs this year, as well as a back to school block party in August.