Health Ini­tia­tive strives to meet LGBT Ge­or­gia’s needs

GA Voice - - Health & Fitness -

Ex­pect to see the Health Ini­tia­tive at more LGBT events across the state, in­clud­ing some of the state’s largest Pride fes­ti­vals out­side of At­lanta.

“We’re try­ing to part­ner with each of the Pride or­ga­ni­za­tions around the state,” El­lis said. “We want to go in and of­fer a com­mu­nity train­ing for health­care providers for that area and a cor­re­spond­ing health fair.”

The idea is that the Health Ini­tia­tive can work with lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions and care providers to cre­ate a net­work of LGBT-friendly (and prop­erly trained) med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als around the state.

The big­gest chal­lenge, El­lis said, of reach­ing out to LGBT in­di­vid­u­als re­gard­ing their health is craft­ing a mes­sage that will re­ceived by peo­ple who may have spent time out­side of the tra­di­tional health­care sys­tem.

“If you don’t see your­self in the health mes­sage, you’re not as likely to adopt it, par­tic­u­larly for younger peo­ple,” El­lis said. “We have to come up with a way to help, whether it’s to do more push ups or shift­ing your diet. We have to come up with ways to make that a pri­or­ity as a com­mu­nity.” The Health Fund: Pro­vides ac­cess to health screen­ings, an­nual phys­i­cals, dental treat­ments, pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion and more by work­ing with LGBTQ providers who of­fer free or dis­counted ser­vices. When do­na­tions make it pos­si­ble, can of­fer di­rect as­sis­tance to those who ap­ply and are ap­proved. Real Bois Talk: A pro­gram for mas­cu­linei­den­ti­fied African-Amer­i­can gay fe­males. The pro­gram meets monthly at the Rush Cen­ter. Domestic Vi­o­lence Per­pe­tra­tors and Sur­vivors Sup­port Groups: For sur­vivors, the group of­fers a chance to work to­ward their re­cov­ery in a group at­mos­phere. For per­pe­tra­tors, a sep­a­rate pro­gram is de­signed to help man­age anger and teach pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures. Both groups meet once a week at the Rush Cen­ter. Weight Watch­ers: A health-con­scious weight loss group meets ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing at the Rush Cen­ter. Fourth Tues­day: The Health Ini­tia­tive’s so­cial group for women meets to pro­mote healthy busi­ness and per­sonal net­work­ing. The group reg­u­larly hosts din­ners and so­cial mix­ers through­out the year. SAGE At­lanta (Ser­vices and Ad­vo­cacy for GLBT El­ders): This group serves LGBT se­niors by pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­nity for so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and ad­vo­cacy. The group meets ev­ery Thurs­day morn­ing at the Rush Cen­ter. De­catur Women’s Sports League: Soft­ball, bowl­ing, vol­ley­ball and other sports are or­ga­nized to ben­e­fit the Health Ini­tia­tive. For sched­ules, visit www.de­catur­wom­enss­port­sleague.info

The Fall Garden Party is the largest fundraiser for the Health Ini­tia­tive, which pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and ser­vices to LGBT Ge­or­gians. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

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