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Roybal Institute hosts health fair for men and families

Visitors receive information from booths at Men's Health Awareness Day. (Photo/Ramon Ramos)

To mark Men’s Health Month, the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work hosted Men’s Health Awareness Day on June 22.

More than 500 people attended the event on the University Park Campus, which brought together more than 35 health organizations and community service groups, including health care professionals from the USC School of Pharmacy, the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, to offer free health screenings and information on a variety of issues relevant to men. Some of the other prominent exhibitors included the American Diabetes Association, the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Heart Association.

“The fair is really an opportunity for men and their families — their partners, their children and their neighbors — to have a good time, but at the same time, be able to receive health-related information and screenings,” said Maria Aranda, an associate professor at the School of Social Work and the USC Roybal Institute who helped develop the idea for the event.

Studies suggest that men are less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year.

“A lot of times men believe that they’re superior, and they don’t need to get checked out,” said Max Molina, an event volunteer and recent graduate of the School of Social Work’s master of social work program. “That’s part of the reason why there are a lot of issues with men of an older age because they haven’t been able to catch things before it’s too late.”

Statistics also show that men die at a higher rate than women from the top 10 causes of death and live five fewer years in terms of life expectancy than women in the United States.

One of the unique aspects of the health fair was that it featured a classic lowrider car show exhibit from the Imperials Car Club.

“A couple of our friends just died of cancer,” said Tomas Vasquez, president of the Imperials Car Club. “We thought it would be a great idea to try to get the lowriding community interested in coming to something like this, and maybe we could get the guys into getting themselves tested.”

The Imperials Car Club was founded in 1965 in the heart of East Los Angeles and is considered by many to be the oldest and most respected lowrider car club.

“We knew we needed a particular draw for this type of event,” Aranda said. “What better way than to have cars as a central theme?”

The mission of the Roybal Institute is to advance research that enhances optimal aging of persons in low-income communities. One of the ways it fulfills its mission is by fostering and strengthening university and community partnerships through events that help to promote the health and wellness of individuals over the course of their lives.

“For us, it is an opportunity to start a process of growing closer to the community and have them understand that we can all work together and that USC is here as a resource,” said Provost Professor William Vega, executive director of the USC Roybal Institute.

Community leaders and martial arts experts William “Blinky” Rodriguez and Aquil Basheer appeared at the event and briefly spoke about the importance for men to take care of their health.

Through word-of-mouth advertising and flyers, many attendees had come from local communities surrounding USC and the Southern California area.

“A friend of mine passed me this flyer, and it made sense to me,” said one of the event attendees. “A health fair just devoted to specific men’s issues is kind of rare, so I was curious to see what kind of services I could come and get.”

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