UTHSC Big Participant in Recent Block Party for Peace

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The 14th annual Block Party for Peace drew multiple organizations throughout the city to provide health care services, career resources, and more to the Frayser and the Raleigh community. (Photo by Bronson Worthy with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare)

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center joined hundreds in the city of Memphis for a block party geared toward improving the quality of life for our neighbors.

“The Block Party for Peace is about improving people’s quality of life through education, employment and health,” said State Representative Antonio Parkinson, founder and organizer of Block Party for Peace. “People with a good quality of life are less likely to commit crimes. Many thanks to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for their strong engagement and support.”

The 14th annual Block Party for Peace was held in Frayser and Raleigh this past weekend. The event provided free health services, career resources, education, and tips on healthy living, to individuals from surrounding neighborhoods in the community.

A student in the College of Dentistry performs a dental screening.

“Representative Parkinson is doing exactly what the people of Memphis need,” said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, UTHSC executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer. “Advocating for peace in the face of our growing community crime problem and having the university as a partner to do the health screenings and assessments necessary for people who otherwise would not have access to health care, makes this a multifaceted community intervention event.”

Many of the colleges at UTHSC participated providing an interdisciplinary approach to patient care including the colleges of Dentistry, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and the Office of Health Disparities Education and Community Engagement. Blood sugar and blood pressure screenings were performed on more than 70 individuals as well as dental screenings and oral hygiene instruction to 65 individuals.

“We experienced an awesome display of interdisciplinary teamwork at this event,” said Cassandra Christiansen, RDH, MPA, EdD, associate professor in the College of Dentistry and director of School-Based Programs and Community Outreach. “It was great for UTHSC College of Dentistry’s dental and dental hygiene students to work side-by-side with physical therapy and nurse practitioner students and faculty.”

Peg Hartig, PhD, APN-BC, FAANP, professor in the College of Nursing, said the event offered individuals who may not be able to afford preventive care or testing for diabetes, an opportunity to learn if their blood sugar levels were high. The event provided a way for colleges to refer participants for follow-up appointments to clinics in the medical district or clinics in their community.

The College of Nursing and the College of Medicine provided blood sugar and blood pressure checks for participants at the Block Party for Peace.

One of the principle missions of the event is to understand the issues our communities face and ways organizations can work together to improve ones’ quality of life.

“If you ask anyone from almost anywhere, not just here is Memphis, what are their two most compelling concerns they will almost universally say that it is crime and health care and any inroads we can make into those two spheres of influence, no matter how incremental, are well worth the investment for our state as a whole,” Dr. Brown said.

Block Party for Peace was created to promote peace, empowerment, and opportunity within and surrounding the communities of Memphis, Tennessee.

“We try to get our students into the community so that they can really see the patient population that we serve here,” said Dr. Christiansen. “But also so that they can see them in the communities in which they live, and not just here on campus.”

Several colleges were involved in providing health care services at the Block Party for Peace.