A Cultural & Creative Response to a Clear & Present Danger: Poor Health & Unhealthy Lifestyles in the African American Community

The last two decades have produced study after study that have quantified the increasing morbidity and mortality rates in the African American community from chronic, treatable and avoidable illnesses, such as the unholy trinity of diabetes, hypertension and the attendant heart disease. Treatable cancers (breast, prostate, colon, lung) are flourishing, as early diagnosis opportunities are lost due to poor or absent preventative health habits.

 It is abundantly clear that the knowledge and the means have been insufficient in efforts to improve the commitment and intention of African Americans to be healthy.

Ashé Cultural Arts Center has built its work on a philosophy that suggests that all things work better when they are grounded in culture and when creative or art-focused strategies are employed to fuel change and transformation.

We have a history of making headway in consciousness surrounding illiteracy, dialogue and awareness around race and racism; and improved wellness for elders, women and youth in our various programs.

Health Nutz is a more focused effort to create cheerleaders for good health who are learning how, why and what must be done to improve the quality of their own lives and health, as well as that of their loved ones. This ensemble of young actors are everyday Joes and Janes who are learning more about health, struggling to accept the implications of new information, while working to break bad habits and create new ones. This tension is the heart of the stories that Health Nutz shares with its audiences.

The ensemble accommodates various types of venues and audience opportunities. There is the 45-minute show, the vignette for health fairs, shared billing situations, solo performances and the possibility for commercials. In all instances, this “art for life” is an engagement tool with the audience, and we use our nurse “Mama Jamilah,” on occasion, to answer questions, make referrals and hammer home the importance of working to change now.

View the Health Nutz Nation blog with recipes and health tips!

Check out the pictures of sweet potato races at Arthur Ashe with Health Nutz Nation! 

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Health Nutz is available for workshops, conferences, field trips and health fairs.