May 17, 2011  

Coming Together as One University to Help the Community

Los Angeles, volunteers from Charles R. Drew University unified on Saturday, working together to host a community festival.

Dubbed “Spring Into Health: A Health, Fitness & Family Fun Festival,” the university was one of the main backers for the event held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in Los Angeles. Attendees received health screenings for blood pressure and other chronic conditions, while children hunted for Easter eggs. They watched demonstrations on preparing nutritious meals and took home potted vegetables and herbs. They practiced yoga and later competed in dance competitions.

A full schedule of activity brought together student volunteers from the College of Medicine, College of Science and Health, Nursing, Admissions, Library, Facilities, Saturday Science Academy II, as well as Richard Baker, the provost and dean, College of Medicine who spoke during the event.

The festival, which drew several hundred people, was intended to help expose people to healthier living, said Yelba Castellon, a third-year medical student who organized the event. She recruited dozens of students from across the university to assist with the festival. “It’s not hard to motivate them to give back,” she said of student volunteers.

With students eager to help, the public was grateful for their efforts.  

"It's very nice," said Adala Molina of Los Angeles, who was making her way toward the exit as the festival began to wind down, in tow with her two young children. She held a potted herbal plant and her son walked with a pepper that had sprouted. "My kids loved it," she said. She also appreciated the family having a health screening. Otherwise, she said, they rely on visiting clinics.

Nearby, Shanna Lewis enjoyed watching the dance competition with her two teenagers. "It's positive fun," she said.

Ms. Lewis said her children learned a lot about fruits and vegetables, as well about how to prepare meals from other cultures they had not yet tried, especially Indian dishes, she said. During the demonstration, she said her children "were asking questions. I was thinking, 'do you really want to know that'? I was surprised. They were asking questions."      

The cookbook they received rewarded their interest, Ms. Lewis said. "Now they are interested and want to cook." Of the festival, her main wish is there were more such activities to help keep kids active and out of trouble. She lives within walking distance to the park and sees many youths influenced by gangs. "I really appreciate it. Look at all the different nationalities and everybody got along." 
The event was sponsored as a partnership that included the university, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the North Area Neighborhood Development Council. But the festival would have been impossible to host without generous financial support from Gordon Lee, and his two sons, Robert and Jonathan. "If not for them, we couldn't have done this event," said Daphne Calmes, associate dean, College of Medicine.  

That would have prevented a festival of fun from taking place. Watching a group of children compete during a dance competition, Zack Fleming, who works in the university's facilities department said: "This was a really nice event for the community," he said, as he nodded his head and smiled. "It was real cool." 



For more information, please contact:
Daryl Strickland

Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science
Telephone: (562) 229-4924
Office : (323) 563-4983


About Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution.  Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals.  The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S., CDU is recognized as a leader in translational and health inequities research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS.  Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the “best performer” in the University of California System with respect to producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians by the Greenlining Institute.  For more information, visit .


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