Families and community members are invited to learn more about cancer prevention and cancer-related racial disparities from students and experts as Milwaukee Public Schools’ Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA) hosts a health fair.
The MHSA service learning project is happening thanks to a grant from the American Cancer Society and Kohl’s to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). Through the grant, MHSA students have been studying cancer and related racial disparities in Milwaukee, and hearing from MCW guest speakers.
Cancer and cancer-related mortality affect a disproportionate amount of African Americans in the region, including higher incidence and mortality rates for lung, liver and colon cancers and a higher breast cancer mortality rate for African-American women. Prostate cancer rates among African-American men are double those in the population as a whole.
Forty groups of students will present the results of their work and 12 local health organizations will join them in offering helpful health information at the fair set for Saturday, January 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, 2300 W. Highland Avenue, Milwaukee 53233. MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver is also scheduled to attend.
Organizations sharing information with the community include: American Cancer Society, BadgerCare, Froedtert Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Health Education Center (AHEC), City of Milwaukee Summer Employment, Progressive Community Health Centers, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, United Community Center and Walnut Way Conservation Corp.
Among the MHSA students sharing the information she learned is Shenika Jackson, who recently learned a family member was diagnosed with cancer.
“At first, I didn’t know how to feel or what to think or do,” she recalled. Then, she began the service learning project and learned more about treatment options. “I regained hope,” Shenika said.
The project also has personal significance for MHSA health educator Dakota Berg who, at age 10, lost his father to lung cancer.
“I hope my students can learn about cancer prevention and that choices they might make today could impact them later in life,” Berg said.
MHSA student Maiana Russell said she hopes the fair will help the public learn ways “to not only prevent and deal with cancer, but also ways to improve overall health through diet.”
Over the past three decades, the obesity rate among children ages 12-19 has more than tripled – increasing from 5% in 1980 to 18% in 2010. In Milwaukee, 19% of high school students are obese. This puts our youth at risk for many types of cancer and other chronic diseases as they get older.
“Through the Kohl’s Healthy Families program, which provides local families with resources to help prevent cancer and cope with a diagnosis, we’re proud to support this project at Milwaukee High School of the Arts,” said Beth Brunner, health systems manager at the American Cancer Society. “By educating the students about eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and being active, they can help reduce their risk of cancer later in life.”
The partnership is also one part of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s work to expand awareness of cancer and career opportunities in cancer research.
“We know that people who come from underserved communities face issues such as access to care, poverty, segregation – all of which are associated with risk factors such as smoking, obesity and sedentary activity,” said Dr. Melinda Stolley, associate director of prevention and control at the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center. “As one of the largest institutions in Milwaukee, we have a responsibility to the community to enhance the welfare of all.”