Each year in January, the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association hosts an annual men’s health conference to encourage Black men and boys to start off the new year by establishing healthy eating habits and developing an exercise program they can stick with as celebrity and well-known presenters provide vital health information.
“This is our annual New Years’ kick-off event and the goal of the event is to encourage and empower men – particularly Black men – to be successful with their New Years’ resolutions,” actor, comedian and writer Dannon Green, one of the featured presenters for the event, tells Madison365 in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles, California. “What I love about this annual event is the important information that it delivers. There has been a lack of information directed to Black men, in particular. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this. It’s something that is genuinely needed.”
The event is organized by Aaron Perry, founder of Rebalanced-life Wellness Association, a non-profit organization based out of Madison whose mission is to improve the health of Black men across the nation and usually features a lot of star power – last year’s event was highlighted by D.L. Hughley, an actor, political commentator, radio host, author and stand-up comedian who is well-known as one of the “Big Four” comedians in The Original Kings of Comedy.
This year’s Annual We’re Off to a Good Start event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Now in its sixth year, this virtual event will be broadcast nationwide, encouraging participation from Black men and their families across the United States.
“It’s a great event. When you can go and spread the word like this, that is awesome,” Green says. “I’ve had so many people from the past event that said, ‘I really appreciate you giving me this information.’”
This year’s “We’re Off to a Good Start” will focus on colon cancer screening and early detection.
“It can be tough to talk about these kinds of things amongst men, but it’s important to know that we are talking about things that are preventable,” Green says.
Green made his TV debut on Apollo Comedy Hour and is mostly recognized for his works in “Baby Boy,” “Butter,” “For da Love of Money,” and “I Am the Dream.” He has also been featured in the sitcoms Moesha, Girlfriends, and One on One. Green tells Madison365 that the subject matter of this year’s event is important to him as someone who has had prostate cancer in the past.
“Since I’ve had prostate cancer, I’ve had four colonoscopies in the last 10 years. They are simple and painless. They can save your life,” he says. “The biggest obstacles that have caused men so many health problems historically have been machoness and lack of information. A lot of times a man won’t even go to a doctor unless his wife or his girlfriend are forcing him to go. But I do believe that men are evolving in the way they are now able to talk to each other about health issues and to go see a doctor.
“You can’t be scared to go see a doctor. You have to break that fear. And once you break that, things will be much better for you healthwise,” he adds. “And it’s good to go to the doctor even when you’re feeling good.”
Green, who has been featured at numerous film festivals for this recent film titled “The Executioners We All Had a Chance,” a powerful documentary about boxing in Philadelphia, has known Perry for many decades — since they were college roommates and basketball teammates.
“We’ve known each other as kids, because we were 18 or 19 years old,” Green remembers. “He’s always had a lot of awareness and was always trying to make the people around him better and his community better. When someone has that kind of drive, it’s easy to support a person.”
Green says he’s really impressed with all of the work that Perry’s Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association has done to lessen racial disparities in health including opening the nation’s first men’s health center inside a Black barbershop on Madison’s west side where they provide life-saving preventive health screenings, health education and more five days a week.
“Aaron is getting some really quality people to help him spread the word to help people. It’s amazing to see what he has done,” Green says. “I think Aaron is doing a wonderful job. If you look around the country, how many organizations are really doing this?“
Perry founded Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association in 2007 and has been working with local businesses, corporations, community-based organizations, health educators and the faith community to create an awareness of the major health concerns affecting African-Americans and to actively promote a healthier lifestyle. He has been named TIME Magazine 50 Most Influential People in Healthcare and featured in Men’s Health Magazine and ABC’s Good Morning America. Perry will be the moderator at the event.
The event will also feature Dr. Travelle Ellis MD, Health Equity Director at Exact Sciences, who will discuss colorectal cancer and its disproportionate effects on the Black community.
“We’re Off to a Good Start” will also feature Chris Spencer, a writer, executive producer, comedian, master of ceremonies, who was the first host of the late-night talk show Vibe. He has gone on to star in several film projects such as Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood, The Sixth Man, Significant Others, and Postal.
“This event is really important for the Black community and it has a lot to do with our diet,” Green says. “If you are an African American male and you grew up eating soul food, you should probably start getting colonoscopies at the age of 40 because our diets are harder. We’ve always been told to get a colonoscopy – for men – at the age of 50. But that’s not correct.
“We have more fried foods and greasy foods and starch. I think that you should be looking at your colon, especially as a minority, a lot sooner,” he adds. “This is something that I will be emphasizing at Saturday’s event.”
The 6th Annual We’re Off to a Good Start event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. To register, click here.