“Everyone deserves access to answers about their own health. Often, African-American men are diagnosed later and die more often from a variety of preventable diseases compared to women and other racial and ethnic groups. Heal Our People Incorporated’s mission is to enhance the lives of these men through campaigns to improve overall health and access to services, academic success, and training in fatherhood so they can function more productively in their families, careers, schools, and communities.
I created the Shape-Up Men’s Barbershop health initiative for Heal Our People to educate men about and screen them for diabetes, hypertension, and HIV/AIDS. We held a men’s health fair at the Y in 2015 and started holding events at Exclusive Kutz Barbershop and Lounge in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 2017. At our first barbershop event, we screened 21 men for high blood pressure and tested 10 participants for HIV/AIDS. We distributed health literature to more than 60 participants, provided healthy snacks, and offered $5 off haircuts for any men who completed a health screening or HIV test.
The men in our community were extremely receptive to the services, and many volunteered to get HIV testing when they noticed we were offering them free of charge. We plan to expand to two other barbershops and include screenings for diabetes and prostate cancer in the future. I am excited about changing the narrative and moving the needle on African-American health disparities to ensure our community members can live long and live well.”
— Micah Griffin ’15 is a Master of Healthcare Administration graduate, PhD in Health Services student, and 2015 Scholar of Change. He is the founder and chairman of Heal Our People Incorporated. He recently relocated to serve as director of Student Health & Counseling Services at Alabama A&M University. Heal Our People will continue to serve the people of North Carolina, but Griffin plans to bring some of the services to Alabama as well.