Moms, daughters turn out for health fair

ROCHESTER — Evelyn and Bella Cole were among the mother-daughter duos who attended the third-annual "Para Tu Salud Mujer Latina" health fair.

Evelyn Cole said that she appreciated the tips she received on fostering open communication with her 12-year-old daughter during the May 19 event sponsored by Latinas Unidas and AIDS Care. More than 60 people participated in the health fair that was held at the AIDS Care site on Monroe Avenue.

"Speak clearly and not accuse and use ‘I’ to describe your feelings," explained Cole, of Penfield, about some of the advice she received at one of the fair’s workshops. "It’s what you have to do to make sure communication is effective."

As the youngest of three children, Bella said that she liked being able to spend alone time with her mother.

"I got to tell her how I’d like to contribute to my family, to contribute more … by being nice to everybody and helping everybody out," she said.

Providing a comfortable space where such conversations can take place is part of the goal for the event, said Lucia Colindres, senior associate director of care management and outreach at AIDS Care.

The health fair also strives to provide information on physical, social and emotional wellness with a focus on the mind-body-spirit connection, added Sady Fischer, associate director of minority health initiatives for AIDS Care who also served as event coordinator.

Workshops touched on caring for loved ones as they age, cultural messages about women and their bodies and sexuality, and how to navigate relationships.

"For example, if you’re not happy in a relationship, that touches our soul, our very being," Fischer noted as she explained the importance of the workshops.

AIDS Care joined forces with Latinas Unidas to offer the daylong fair, which also included health screenings, tables with information from other agencies and a zumba demonstration. Colindres said that it was a natural fit because of Latinas Unidas’ mission to improve the quality of life for Latinas locally.

Latinas Unidas also has strived to bring women together and provide them with the information they need as well as boost awareness in the community of their value and contributions, noted Daisy Rivera-Algarin, the organization’s president.

The health fair also seeks to help women overcome some of the cultural barriers that might prevent them from talking about situations, such as domestic violence or their own sexuality, which have an impact on their physical and emotional health, added Colindres.

The event also provided bonding time for Juana Santiago of Rochester and her two daughters, Aliyah, 14, and Samantha, 13.

"I wanted to try and get more insight on my family," she said. "I’ve learned a lot."

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