As long as Hazel Fortson is living, she said she plans to attend the Ethnic Health Summit every year.

“It’s very interesting,” Fortson, 66, of Terre Haute said, “and has up-to-date information on medical terms, different health issues that have been important to my health and my life and my family.”

She attended the summit Saturday at the Landsbaum Center with some of her family.

It was the third year for the summit, sponsored by Vigo County Minority Health Coalition, with 14 free health screenings, 40 health exhibits and various health sessions.

The Summit, “Health is Your First Wealth — Reach for Wellness,” is a “collaborative effort among local health care agencies, physicians and organizations to help educate the community about accessing available resources to meet health care needs,” according to Summit program.

Fortson said she enjoyed the “Taking care of your feet” session presented by Dr. James Helarie, a local podiatrist.

“Many of the things I thought was folklore, he gave as correct information that was true,” she said.

There are several things she plans to get more information on in order to take better care of her feet and legs, Fortson said.

Helarie spoke for about an hour about various foot ailments and treatments as well as finding a good shoe.

Shoes are the braces between feet and the ground, he told the crowd of about 25 people. In a lifetime, he said people will walk at least 150,000 miles.

“You’ve got to be good to your feet,” Helarie said.

Support and the proper fit are the two most important things to consider when looking for a good shoe, he said, though it’s also important to consider the activity the shoe is for.

Not all shoes or shoe trends are created equal, though.

Time wearing the pointed-toe shoe or the “needle-nose pointed shoe,” as Helarie refers to them, should be limited, he said. He also calls them the “limousine shoe” because they should only be worn to get in and out of the limo or for pictures, he said.

Problems that can occur if these shoes are worn for too long include pinched nerves and bunion formation, he said.

Also, the ideal height for a heal is between 21/2 and 3 inches, “but try to avoid 4 and above,” Helarie said.

A second session Fortson and her family enjoyed was the “Be prepared with RAD” session.

RAD or Rape Aggression Defense is a 12-hour class offered at Indiana State University to show women how to protect themselves and escape risky situations.

Only a few of the techniques were demonstrated in the hourlong session at the Summit by ISU Lt. David Smith and Sgt. Jacuelyn Smith.

Lt. Smith noted that the class methods should be used only to get away from an attacker and get help, and not to stay and fight.

Some of the techniques demonstrated included breaking free from a chokehold or bear hug and blocking hits. One of the most important things to do when in a potentially dangerous situation is to yell things such as “No!” and “No! Get back!”

Yelling is important because it lets others in the area know that someone is in danger and it keeps the victim breathing. Sgt. Smith said a lot of times the victim will tense up and forget to breath, which can cause hyperventilation and possible fainting, something that doesn’t do the victim any good if she wants to get away from an attacker.

Classes are offered twice a year at ISU and are free to the students, but they can also be offered to any group or organization that has at least 10 people willing to participate for free.

“It’s a confidence builder,” Sgt. Smith said about the class, “making you aware of what you have” on your body to defend yourself.

Although Fortson and her family didn’t participate in the demonstration, her sister said she still enjoyed watching it and learned some things.

In information Fortson received from the health sessions, she was also able to get more information and “goodies” from the various health booths. Something, she said she enjoyed.

Debbie Stinston, a social worker, was at the Fresenious Medical Care Dialysis Center booth to answer questions about kidneys and kidney-related problems.

Keeping diabetes and hypertension under control are the best ways to care for the kidneys, she said.

Diabetes and hypertension are coming up in patients at a younger age all the time, she said so patients “need to be aware.”

Stinston said the center offers classes for people with kidney problems once a month at the Vigo County Public Library.

Blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, depression, glaucoma and cholesterol tests were just some of the screenings available.

Gail Thompson attended to have her cholesterol tested between doctor’s visits, she said. This was her second time attending the summit.

“It’s a good idea,” she said about the health summit, “because it’s an easy way to find out if you have certain things.”

Crystal Garcia can be reached at (812) 231-4271 or

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