Kidney Health Fest Focuses on Disease Prevention


Northwest Kidney Centers Health Fest photographs

Free screenings will test for diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

One in seven American adults has kidney disease. In the African American community, the number increases fourfold. Although African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, 35 percent of individuals with kidney failure on dialysis are African American. In addition, African American men are 10 to 14 times more likely to develop kidney failure due to high blood pressure than Caucasian men in the same age group.

On Saturday, June 22, 2013, Northwest Kidney Centers will hold its 11th annual Kidney Health Fest for African American Families. About 750 people attended last year, taking advantage of free health screenings, education, entertainment, and healthy food made by local celebrity chefs. Co-sponsors of this year's event include Damascus Baptist, First AME, Freedom Church of Seattle, Goodwill Missionary Baptist, Immaculate Conception, Liberation United Church of Christ, Madison Park Church of Christ, Mt. Zion Baptist, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, New Hope Missionary Baptist, Pentecostal Covenant Church, Southside Church of Christ, St. Mary’s, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist, and Walker Chapel AME.

Free health screenings

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., participants can receive a free kidney health screening and private consultation with a doctor about the results. The screening includes a finger stick for a blood sample, urinalysis, blood pressure and weight check. Diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity all contribute to the current epidemic of kidney disease.

From 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Chris B. Bennett, publisher of The Seattle Medium newspaper and talk show host on KRIZ/KYIZ/KZIZ Radio, will host a health education program. Dr. Jonathan Himmelfarb, director of Seattle's Kidney Research Institute and an international authority who can explain up-to-the-minute science in terms laypeople can understand, will talk about the reasons why kidney disease is more common in African Americans than in Caucasians, and the latest thinking about ways to prevent and treat it.

Healthy, tasty lunch and entertainment, too

At 12 noon, noted local chefs will serve a free lunch. Donating their services are Jemil Johnson of Jemil's Big Easy, Mulugeta Abate of Pan Africa, Theo Martin of Island Soul, Anthony Davis of AMD's Catering, and Kristi Brown-Wokoma of That Brown Girl Catering.

The award-winning Pacific Northwest Drumline Association will kick off the day, and the energy will stay high with performances by electric fusion band Comfort Food, rapper Willa Scrilla, singers and musicians from the NAACP ACT-SO program, spoken word artists, the Liberation United Church of Christ choir, and more.

Special activities for children include an obstacle course and a visit from the Black Firefighters Association truck.

Northwest Kidney Centers Health Fest photographs

Fitness demonstrations will get the audience moving.

Focus on fitness and healthy living

Edna Daigre from Ewajo Center, Ajene Bomani-Robertson from the Austin Foundation, and Jannine Young from Core Power Yoga will speak and get the audience moving with fitness demonstrations.

More than 30 exhibitors will be on hand to share resources for healthy living.

Participants will learn how to avoid kidney disease by:

  • Treating high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the leading causes of kidney failure.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Reducing added salt and processed, packaged and fast food.
  • Eating healthy to avoid obesity.
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Avoiding the overuse of pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen, which can damage kidneys.

Northwest Kidney Centers Health Fest photographs

"Everyone is welcome to attend the Fest, have fun and learn about kidney disease and healthy living—and it's completely free!" said Dr. Bessie Young, a Seattle kidney specialist who has chaired the community organizing committee since the Fest began. "Bring your friends and family and make a day of it. People of every age can have fun while they learn how to keep their families healthy."

The Kidney Health Fest is a free event. It will be held at Van Asselt Elementary School (the former African American Academy), located at 8311 Beacon Ave. S., in Seattle. The school is located on the Metro #106 bus line.

For more information about the event or to pre-register, visit The Twitter hashtag for the Fest is #healthfest.

Northwest Kidney Centers keeps people alive with dialysis care, educates the public about kidney health, and collaborates with UW Medicine in the Kidney Research Institute. It is one of very few community-based, nonprofit dialysis providers in the country. Founded in Seattle in 1962, it was the first out-of-hospital dialysis program in the world. It is still a model in the field. Learn more at

Aging and Disability Services collaborated with Northwest Kidney Centers to develop the Kidney Health (Hemodialysis) Self-Management Plan, now available online.