Black Health Commission changes the narrative by hosting the Black Joy Festival
Rebecca Desir had her eyes set on one goal since her teenage years: she wanted to be a teacher.
Jokingly, Desir says that growing up the daughter of Haitian immigrants, her parents expected her to become a doctor or engineer.
Although she did not choose these specific career paths, her current work aligns with both health and education.
Desir graduated from Florida International University in Miami with a Masters in Public Health.
She remembers a project presented by one of her teachers who had assigned her class to solve a public health problem of their choice.
She said that many of her peers have chosen important issues like HIV / AIDS. Desir, however, chose to go in a different direction for its presentation.
Living in Miami, she noticed a trend towards plastic surgery, specifically Brazilian buttocks facelifts.
She says that while this is a popular procedure and has gained a lot of attention on social media, many may not realize that she can kill you, especially if done poorly. In addition, the implications of trends like this should be discussed regularly.
Her teacher said she has a unique way of seeing health care.
Now, Desir is using her perception of public health to educate the communities here in Metro-Orlando.
In 2019, she created the Sanford-based nonprofit called Black Health Commission.
The organization’s mission is to educate and raise awareness of the root causes of health disparities through programs, volunteering, and collaboration with other organizations.
Witnessing the health complications of a family member was the catalyst for his decision to start the organization.
âI think my niece was about to die,â Desir said.
Her sister-in-law had a child on the way, but there were major problems during the pregnancy.
âMy sister-in-law, she had a very difficult pregnancy, and she was not really heard during her pregnancy, so she had to be transferred to [an] The Orlando Brevard County Hospital, âDesir said.
Desir said if her family did not stand up for her, the situation could have ended horribly.
This prompted Desir to start researching disparities in maternal health among blacks, which led to the first event hosted by the Black Health Commission.
Desir, along with members of the organization and volunteers, organized a community baby shower for eight families, providing them with pregnancy health resources and maternity supplies.
Desir wanted to organize more community events, but COVID-19 struck soon after.
So she switched to digital health education on social media platforms like Instagram.
Desire has intertwined pop culture and health issues, providing social media users with relevant health education.
“… Stay in tune with the trends and use them to educate people since they are already talking about them,” she said. âWhen people are talking about a certain celebrity and they are having a mental health crisis, this is a great opportunity for public health professionals. “
The association used icons like Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and American rapper Kanye West to discuss the stigma of mental health in the black community on social media. After his death, American rapper Biz Markie was also featured on the page, highlighting the disproportionate impacts of diabetes in the black community.
Desir says she even used the last cashier challenge, to educate people about the impacts of COVID-19 on the hospital system. Groups of people gather several crates of milk and stack them on top of each to form stairs. Then the participants are faced with the challenge of crossing the crates without falling before passing to the other side.
âHospitals don’t really have a place for you to walk in with your neck broken or whatever happens if you fail the challenge because they’re filled with covid-19 patients,â Desir said.
In 2020, Desir said it seemed like only one bad thing was for the news to be shared across all platforms. She said the coverage after George Floyd’s death and the deadly impacts of COVID-19 has become overwhelming.
âIt got really depressing to keep pushing this kind of content and I knew if I felt that heaviness then I was pushing that heaviness onto our subscribers as well,â she said. “I decided to make a difference and change the narrative.”
She began to think of ways to bring joy back to the community after witnessing widespread loss. Shortly after, the idea to host the Black Joy Festival was born.
The Black Health Commission is partnering with Forma Therapeutics, Inc. on Saturday to present the Black Joy Festival.
It’s 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 28 at Blue Jacket Park.
Desir said it was a one stop shop for health resources and a good time.
The non-profit organization is partnering with Orange Blossom Family Health to set up a mobile vaccination clinic, local pediatricians will be available to discuss children’s health, and other organizations with mental health resources will also be available. present at the festival.
Food, vendors, music and games like spades or various activities like Double Dutch will also be available.
âI want people to feel like despite what is happening, despite the circumstances, we will overcome any obstacle,â Desir said.
Her greatest hope is that everyone who comes to the festival will leave with a deep sense of joy.
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