MILWAUKEE — As Milwaukee gets ready to host the 2021 Juneteenth Day parade and celebrations, a health provider has been preparing for the opportunity to help neighbors stay healthy.
For Julian Teagu, Juneteenth Day has brought people, food, and community together.
"Pretty much everything. I love Juneteenth," said Teagu.
For Milwaukee Health Services Inc., the day has been an opportunity to reach its neighbors.
"You can't celebrate life without celebrating wellness, and you can't have wellness without health," said Dr. Tito Izard, President and CEO of Milwaukee Health Services Inc.
Last year, when Juneteenth events were scaled back due to the pandemic, Milwaukee Health Services offered free COVID-19 testing and gave away safety kits filled with face masks, hand sanitizer, and information on the new coronavirus.
"This year is probably especially important, just like last year, because there's so much question and concern," Dr. Izard said.
In 2021, MHS will bring COVID-19 vaccinations and doctors to the celebration. Dr. Izard said the setting and engagement can make a difference in connecting with people.
"What we're trying to do with Juneteenth Day is being one [of the] core events to come out and bring information and education and then vaccines to people. But also be able to work with individual neighborhoods and go block by block," said Dr. Izard.
Izard said data shows some of the lowest vaccination rates surround the area where the Juneteenth Day events will take place.
"It's important to recognize people's understanding and their concerns, but still help them come to a decision that's in the best interest of their family," Dr. Izard said.
Julian, who lives near the Milwaukee Health Services MLK Heritage Health Center, said he appreciates the effort, adding you never know who you are going to reach.
"Having somebody there who cares and just giving out information, always would be helpful," Teagu said.
Milwaukee Health Services is offering other screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar. The team also partnered with Cream City Medical Society to bring Black physicians covering a range of specialties to the event.