Health and Wellness fair at TSU exposes community to healthy options

Personal trainer and nutrition coach Tay Sweat talks to fair attendee.

More than 40 vendors participated in another successful Community Health and Wellness Fair at Tennessee State University on April 20.

The fair, which was in TSU’s Kean Hall on the main campus and free to the public, is a partnership between Tennessee State, the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s HIV Vaccine Program, and the Turnip Truck.

Fair attendees got opportunities to receive massages, chiropractic care, dental screenings, HIV testing and more.

Among the fair’s highlights was internationally recognized vegan trainer Tay Sweat, who at one point in his life weighed more than 300 pounds, and battled diabetes and high blood pressure. Afraid he would meet an early death, Sweat decided to take control of his health.

“I got rid of my diabetes and my high blood pressure, and from there I started helping others do the same,” said Sweat in an interview before Friday’s event.

During the fair, Sweat shared his story with attendees, and invited them to stop by his booth to discuss eating healthier. He said one of his challenges is dispelling misconceptions about being vegan.

“I want to show people that you can be vegan, you can be healthy, you can be strong, and you can heal internally by eating the right foods,” said Sweat, whose clients include some of the Tennessee Titans NFL players, and surgeons at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Sweat added that his excessive weight, diabetes and heart disease went away when he switched to a plant diet.

“Maybe it’s not a medication you’re looking for; maybe it’s plants you’re looking for to get rid of what you’re trying to deal with,” said Sweat.

Arvazena Clardy, assistant professor in horticulture and extension in TSU’s College of Agriculture, helped give away free plants to encourage people to try growing food.

“We’re just trying to get people to eat healthier,” said Clardy. “We also have the community garden at TSU, so I try to give plants to get people interested in growing plants.”

TSU’s College of Health Sciences had a number of faculty and staff at the fair to help with screenings and other health checks, such as blood pressure.

The university’s Dental Hygiene Program, which is part of the College of Health Sciences, gave oral cancer screenings and offered participants free teeth cleaning at TSU’s Dental Hygiene Clinic, which provides service to nearly 600 patients a year, including students as well as the Nashville community.

Leon Roberts, coordinator of clinics for the Dental Hygiene Program, said events like the fair are important because they provide the community with needed exposure to healthy options.

“It’s important for the community to know all the different resources and vendors that they can go to for nutrition and health,” said Roberts.