The Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia is hosting its first community-wide health walk on April 7. The Buford Highway 5K walk, which starts at the Northeast Plaza Shopping Center and ends at Plaza Fiesta, aims to promote health and fight obesity in the Latino community.

The coalition’s Program Coordinator Irma Walker said that, according to the Georgia Latino Health Report, obesity and cardiovascular disease are among the highest health risks for Latinos.

And, according to the coalition, two-thirds of Latinos in Georgia do not have access to health care. The 5K walk aims to get people walking and make fitness a part of their lives.

“To me education is key,” Walker said. “To bring awareness and education to the Latino community.”

The city of Brookhaven plans to participate in the event as a way to introduce itself to its many Latino residents on the southern end of the city.

District 4 Councilman Joe Gebbia said City Council members will have a display booth with city literature in Spanish.

“I will be participating in the walk and will join Mayor [J. Max] Davis and several other council members at the city’s booth to not only meet fellow residents and answer questions but also distribute health-related information [in both English and Spanish] and give away health-related products that were generously donated by several corporate sponsors,” Gebbia wrote in an email.

“The city of Brookhaven is committed to celebrating and uplifting the various diverse cultures we have in our city, and we are excited about participating in this event.”

Walker said the Hispanic Health Coalition is also working to bring attention to the other issues identified as top health concerns in the Latino community, including mental health and prenatal care.

“We have work groups meeting every six weeks to talk about what we can do to make an impact,” Walker said.

In addition to drawing attention to exercise and health, one of the goals of the walk is to raise awareness about pedestrian safety along Buford Highway. Many of the Latino residents of Buford Highway regularly walk along the seven-lane highway, which lacks sufficient sidewalks and crosswalks.

“It’s the fourth most dangerous highway in the U.S. in number of people who have died crossing,” Walker said.

Walker said the Hispanic Health Coalition is working with the managers of apartment complexes to get the word out about the walk.

“There’s so many kids and families. We really want them to walk,” Walker said.

But, she emphasized that the event is open to everyone.

“It’s the entire community at large. Everybody, not just Buford Highway … We want to include everybody in the community,” Walker said.

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