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From healthy eating tips to blood pressure testing, Latino Health Fair provides help

Millie Ralsten, left, and Rosa Martin are the coordinator and director, respectively, of the fourth annual Latino Heath Fair at Lexington's Masterson Station Park on Sunday.
Millie Ralsten, left, and Rosa Martin are the coordinator and director, respectively, of the fourth annual Latino Heath Fair at Lexington's Masterson Station Park on Sunday. Lexington Herald-Leader

The stress of juggling multiple jobs and being in a new environment far from families and friends can be harmful to your health. It can lead to high blood pressure, poor eating habits and anxiety.

"There are lots of health concerns" in the Latino community, said Rosa Martin, director and founding member of the Latino Health Fair. "Mostly diabetes and high blood pressure are really high in the community. Also, depression."

For those reasons, Martin is coordinating the fourth annual Latino Health Fair in conjunction with the three-day Festival Latino de Lexington, organized by the Foundation for Latin American and Latin Culture and Arts, and Lexington Parks and Recreation. About 400 people attended last year's health fair, she said.

While Latinos tend to eat very healthfully in their native countries, where people grow a lot of the fresh fruits and vegetables they consume, many in the United States have succumbed to the lure of fast food, Martin said. This bad habit contributes to many of the health issues seen in the community.

Adding to the problem she said, many in the Latino community do not have the proper information about where to find bilingual doctors or where to go in case of an emergency.

The Latino Health Fair — which will have services for children and adults — provides help.

Those attending the fair will be able to have their hearing and vision checked, get their blood pressure taken, and, for women older than 40 who have not had a mammogram in the past year, schedule an appointment for a mammogram.

About 35 booths will be set up offering health-related materials such as tips for healthy eating, and professionals will discuss wellness services available in the community. Most of the health care providers will be bilingual, and there will be a translator if needed.

"The benefit is for all the Spanish people,," said Diana Varon, a past participant in the health fair. "Some people who don't have health insurance can go and get their free services."

Free HIV testing will be offered and there will be interactive activities such as Zumba, a healthy eating demonstration and children's activities including inflatable toys and face painting, organizers said.

The Lions Club will perform the hearing and vision checkups and will provide glasses or other services to those who do not have the financial means to pay for them.

Gisella Astolfo, a frequent attendee at the fair, said the best thing about it is the vast amount of material available.

"Take a moment for each stand," she said. "They have brochures that are full of information and resources."

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