Lessons from Juneteenth

Health took center stage at this year’s Juneteenth Celebration

This year’s Juneteenth Celebration tried something new. The organizers pushed healthy lifestyles by opening the Dr. Henry A. Washington Health Pavilion and invited the first lady of New York State, Michelle Paige Paterson, to make opening remarks. Volunteers and organizers wanted attendees to walk away knowing one thing – preventive health.

The Dr. Henry A. Washington Health Pavilion ribbon cutting was held at 12:40 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in Clinton Square. New York State first lady Michelle Paige Paterson cut the ribbon and served as the grand marshal for the days parade.

The Dr. Henry A. Washington Health Pavilion ribbon cutting was held at 12:40 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in Clinton Square. New York State first lady Michelle Paige Paterson cut the ribbon and served as the grand marshal for the day's parade.

Paterson’s mission to end childhood obesity and her lifetime spent promoting healthy living made her a fitting choice for this year’s event. Her most recent statewide initiative, Healthy Steps to Albany, reached out to middle school students, encouraging them to follow a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating healthy foods.

Saturday, June 13, the Juneteenth event opened with The Winston Gaskin Community Walk for Wellness to encourage children to stay active. Gaskin was Syracuse’s first black pharmacist and operated Gaskin’s Pharmacy on South Avenue for a decade.

Several local health service organizations passed out information and struck up conversations about the importance of blacks to be screened for cancers, register as bone marrow donors and even fat in one’s diet. The health pavilion also featured information on blood pressure, blood chemistries, children’s health, obesity, nutrition, exercise, cancer awareness, heart health and fitness.

The pavilion takes its name from Dr. Washington, who practiced medicine in Syracuse for 41 years and for decades was the city’s only black physician in private practice. He received the Mayor’s Achievement Award for his contributions to the quality of life in Syracuse in 1990.

For more photos from the 2009 Juneteenth Celebration, visit our Flickr site.