Home > AHA Media, April Smith, Community Engagement, Downtown Eastside, DTES, Harm Reduction, Health, Vancouver, Vancouver Downtown Eastside > Alley Health Fair – Thursday Sept 16, 2010 11am – 2pm in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

Alley Health Fair – Thursday Sept 16, 2010 11am – 2pm in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

Alley Health Fair – Thursday Sept 16, 2010 11am – 2pm

100 Block East Hastings

Hair Cuts, Food, Smoothies, Massage, Giveaways, Yoga, Health Info

Carnegie Alley Health Fair

The Downtown Eastside is recognized as one of the poorest and most marginalized communities in Canada. The community’s health problems are well-documented. According to Vancouver Coastal Health, in 2007, Downtown Eastside residents were 20 times more likely than the average BC resident to be infected with HIV, and 10 times more likely to have Hepatitis C.

Inadequate housing and lack of access to basic hygiene mean that Downtown Eastside residents are at higher risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as invasive pneumococcal disease. Downtown Eastside residents have high rates of chronic but preventable diseases such as diabetes, particularly among the Aboriginal population. An April 2008 study for the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Agreement, and BC Housing found that 40% of single room occupancy hotel residents had visited a hospital emergency room in the past year.

The idea for the Alley Health Fair came from discussions over a number of years with community members, partner agencies, and other librarians over possible ways to engage Downtown Eastside residents with health and nutrition information. Traditional approaches, such as computer workshops, books, and leaflets, were rejected as being unsuitable for a community with low literacy levels.

Instead, our idea was to share information about healthy living possibilities in a dynamic, positive way, in a person-to-person environment where people could ask questions about the things that really mattered to them. It was also important to hold the health fair in a place where people were already comfortable, rather than asking people to come somewhere where they may feel unwelcome or unsafe.

The 2008 and 2009 Alley Health Fairs were a huge success. The alley was transformed into a market-like environment, with tents of information and interactive services, from HIV testing to hair cuts, and from massage to lung testing. There was nutritious food, aboriginal drumming, foot care, and free umbrellas. Feedback from participants and service providers was so positive, that many people began asking when the next Alley Health Fair would take place. Some people wanted to make the Alley Health Fair a quarterly, monthly, or even weekly event!

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