By Riley Holcraft
Volunteer State Community College is hosting a service learning event during Black History Month to raise awareness about sickle cell anemia and glaucoma Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m in the Wallace Health Sciences Building.
The AmeriCorps VISTAs in the Office of Student Services have partnered with Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, manager of diversity and inclusion, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for this event.
The AmeriCorps VISTA program is one designed “to strengthen organizations that alleviate poverty through volunteering and the mobilization of resources,” according to the program website. VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America.
The event is open to all students, faculty, and staff in Wallace South 216 and 217, according to Shala Curtis, a member of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Food will be provided in Room 216, and a hands-on activity lab will be available in Room 217.
This event is not a three hour presentation, Curtis wrote. Attendees are encouraged to come and go, and instructors are allowed to bring classes at any time.
Curtis and Kate Crye, another AmeriCorps VISTA, have planned this event and commented on the inspiration
“Each year, the Corporation for National Community Service has a Day of Service that honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” according to Curtis and Crye. “We decided to plan our event in accordance with Black History Month.”
Curtis and Crye went on to explain that the diseases of sickle cell anemia and glaucoma are being recognized during Black History Month due to the higher frequency of each disease within the African-American population.
According to the American Society of Hematology, 1 in 12 African-Americans carry the sickle cell gene. The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African-Americans.
Because diseases such as these can affect anyone, the main purpose of the event is to advise students to protect themselves by keeping up with their health. The informative activities and speakers will encourage regular screenings to expose symptoms before the disease becomes destructive.
“There will be a few interactive activity stations. The stations will be managed by members of the Ophthalmic Tech Program. This will be an opportunity for participants to learn about the negative impact of these diseases on their vision. We are hosting Medical professionals from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. They will be present to offer sickle cell disease screenings during the latter portion of the event,” stated Curtis and Crye.