The Latin music booms and pulses with an infectious groove, getting dancers to jump and clap and daring anyone in hearing distance not to wiggle their hips at least a little. Is it Miami, or maybe a Mexico City nightclub? Try again.
Zumba Latin beats keep people moving. (Photo by Patricia Duff Tucker)
It is a Zumba class in a middle school gym in Duarte — and it is the star attraction of a health education effort by City of Hope’s Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education, or CCARE, and Set for Life, a community-based nonprofit organization focused on wellness.
The class encourages healthy physical activity through the dance-based fitness craze. At the same time, the sessions provide potentially lifesaving health information for San Gabriel Valley residents. Those attending the informational part of the program can join in a Zumba class for free. So far, it has been offered for four Saturdays in March and April.
The effort raises awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer prevention through healthy lifestyle changes and early detection. Just in time for Minority Cancer Awareness Month in April, the recent events primarily targeted Latino and African-American community members.
Experts report that Latinos in the U.S. are significantly less likely than people of any other ethnic group to get screened regularly for colorectal cancer. Too few African-Americans are getting screenings, too. As a result, colorectal cancer tends to be more advanced — when it is less likely to be treated successfully — in these groups.
“It’s important for us to introduce health information that is more community accessible and culturally relevant, and therefore more likely to result in positive changes in health behavior,” said Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D., founding director of CCARE. “This is a community-based, participatory program funded by a grant from the California Dialogue on Cancer. It is part of CCARE’s community education initiative to empower communities to take action to improve the health of its residents and reduce the burden of cancer.”
In addition to discussing how exercise reduces colorectal cancer risk and getting participants moving through Zumba, the recent sessions also introduced City of Hope experts to community members. For example, the April 14 session featured a talk on colorectal cancer treatment by City of Hope surgeon Julian Sanchez, M.D.
CCARE offers community outreach efforts throughout the year focused on cancer prevention. To learn more about CCARE’s efforts, visit www.cityofhope.org/ccare or check the schedule at www.cityofhope.org/calendar for upcoming events. Details on the Zumba classes are available at www.setforlifenews.org.