YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Covelli Centre will be a busy place on Saturday. It’s hosting the African American Male Wellness Walk, an event intended to promote health not only in African American men but the whole family.

The goal is to save lives with early detection of health screenings.  

John-Michael Oliver is the executive director of the African American Wellness Agency in Youngstown. He says they are preparing for a full day of activities.

“This Saturday, we’re having our 10th anniversary 5K walk and run for the Mahoning Valley. We will conduct free health screenings for men and women. There’s gonna be a kids’ play area, line dancing, and over 85 vendors, and so much more,” he said.

The 5k walk or run starts at 7 a.m., but the event lasts all afternoon.  

Rev. Lewis Macklin said the walk got started 10 years ago as a way to get men to think about their health and get scanned for prostate cancer, blood pressure and other issues impacting African-American men.

“Disproportionately, actually. And we’re hoping these events, such as the African-American Wellness Walk will promote the concept of individuals taking responsibility for their health. But you got to know your numbers. You got to know where you’re at. For example, I’m looking forward to getting my PSA taken so I can see if there’s been any change since the last time I had it taken because even a marginal change can suggest something is happening. And African-American men have a propensity for being exposed and not getting treated early enough and actually succumbing to it,” Macklin said.

Also coming to the forefront are mental health issues and also resistance to seeking medical or mental health help.

“We’re concerned about if we do find out what’s going on what’s going to happen. It’s to compromise my lifestyle, my income, my resources. And sometimes, let’s be very honest, we have fear,” Macklin said.

Many times, it’s the women who love the men that get them to the doctor, Macklin said.

“Women tell me all the time I got it on my refrigerator because we’re not going to forget it. We got to get them out there. Every year we have at least several individuals who have discovered conditions that were working against them in their body that they were unaware of,” Macklin said.

The walk taking place this weekend hopes to build on that put health initiatives at the top of mind for African American men in the community but also women, too.

“We have activities, health screenings for men and women. There’s going to be a mammogram station for women. And to be clear, men need to also get them if they have a history of breast cancer in their family for men,” Macklin said.

The event is free and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Macklin noted that there will be a transition in leadership with the mantel going to Reverend John Michael Oliver. He is the executive director of the agency that is affiliated with the National Center for Urgan Solutions out of Columbus, Ohio.

“He’s now the executive director of the agency because it has gone from just a walking event project to an actual full-blown organization that deals also with fatherhood initiatives, deals with workforce development, and all kinds of activities,” Macklin said. “I really appreciate his involvement, his engagement. A young man full of wisdom, energy and both of those things to carry out such a mammoth project. And I’m turning reins over to a good hand.”

Macklin said that Oliver is a young man full of wisdom and energy, traits that are needed for such a ‘mammoth project.”

“We talked about it last year when my illness became even more pronounced. There wouldn’t have been a walk because there was no way I could do it. I would have missed it. I was incapacitated,” Macklin said.

This year, Macklin intends to walk the march.

“I am looking forward to walking this yar. My doctor said that is ambitious, and I’m excited.”