IMAN’s Muslim Run Campaign for Health, Wellness and Healing aims to help solve the crisis of food deserts in Chicago to develop healthier communities. While we work with both state legislature and local business owners for solutions, a critical aspect of the campaign involves directly engaging community members in our targeted neighborhood. As one of their contributions to the campaign, the One Chicago, One Nation Community Ambassadors spent the last several months preparing for a Community Café-esque event at Chicago Lawn’s own Garifuna Flava restaurant. Their planning came to fruition Saturday, April 16th with an event called “Healthy Eats, Conscious Beats” which was a health symposium that used artistic expression to educate residents about health issues. Local painters, poets, and singers graced the stage, bringing a certain creative expression to the shared angst among the community over health problems and disparities. Enthused by the melody of tunes, passersby came in for free food and entertainment and left with tools to ensure their own personal health; not the least of which were recipes to the freshly made fruit smoothies given away during the event.
A distinguishing aspect of the program was an engaging discussion on healthy food choices and personal health questions led by local nutritionist Dr. Angela Odom. She masterfully maintained the energy and excitement brought by the artists to convey a most important message of personal accountability. While we continue to address this issue at an institutional level, such reminders of personal responsibility are incredibly valuable. The culmination of the evening was an exercise workshop led by IMAN Director of Arts and Culture, Asad Jafri. The entire crowd pushed chairs aside and joined in as Asad led the group in aerobics and spiritually healing chants. The program was a most holistic affair. Attendees ate healthy food, learned about personal health, and lost a couple of calories along the way.
The efforts by IMAN’s Community Ambassadors to plan such an event were definitely worthwhile. Creative ideas like “Healthy Eats, Conscious Beats” are desperately needed in communities like Chicago Lawn and we are confident and hopeful that other community leaders will continue to find crafty ways of positively impacting the community.