Indianapolis Kappas grow beards to raise awareness on health issues
Men are sprouting facial fur during the month of November to raise awareness of key issues that affect men’s health. The men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. are doing their part and spearheading a “No Shave November” campaign that raises awareness to a segment of the population that they believe could use some encouragement.
Kappa Alpha Psi was founded Jan. 5, 1911, on the campus of Indiana University — Bloomington and is now composed of undergraduate and alumni chapters on major campuses and in cities throughout the country. The historic African-American fraternity has many national initiatives and among them is “Healthy Kappas, Healthy Communities.” Indy Kappas’ No Shave November campaign coincides with this initiative.
The Recorder spoke with Ramone Morrison, president of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Indianapolis Alumni Chapter, to find out why they wanted to use facial hair as a way to bring awareness to men’s health issues and what they hope to accomplish once beards are full at the end of November.
Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: Why did the men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. decide to participate in No Shave November?
Morris: At this year’s Circle City Classic parade, we launched the Kappas Community Cares initiative called “Healthy Kappas, Healthy Communities.” We tried to take a hard look and identify all the health areas that impact African-American men. Take prostate cancer. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, within the Black community, we are 1.4 times more likely to be diagnosed and 2.6 times more likely to die from prostate cancer from the lack of awareness and testing. We want to be at the forefront of bringing awareness to issues, and we liked the notion of No Shave November. It is a national movement, but we wanted to take it up a notch.
As you grow beards, how do you plan to highlight these health issues?
Participants pledge to grow their beard, but we also asked men to do more. Men also pledge to walk or run at least 10 miles and get at least 10 sponsors to donate $10. We’ve coined this our 10 for 10 Challenge. Proceeds will go to our Community Cares partners such as American Cancer Society, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and American Diabetes Association. This is really spreading too! Our brothers in Milwaukee have taken up the challenge, and we’ve got an intra-chapter challenge. Warren Central High’s football team is participating too. They can’t grow a lot of hair, but they are encouraging the men in their life to get involved.
How do fraternity members and other participants plan to celebrate the end of the challenge?
Our challenge is going to culminate at a Black Friday men’s health fair we are hosting on Black Friday, Nov. 27 from noon to 5 p.m. It’s going to be at the Jewel Event Center. We’re going to be offering screenings for things like prostate cancer; things like flu shots and have general health information on other diseases. We’ve got barbershops coming out to give men free shaves or a trim if they want to keep their beard. We’re also going to have a tally rally beginning at 4 p.m. with Kappa chapters throughout the region, where we get to talk a little smack amongst ourselves to see who raised the most money and hand out a bragging rights trophy.
My husband does No Shave November, so I know how tough growing a beard can be. Are you all going to make it? (laughs)
(laughs) We’re encouraging each other every day. It’s definitely a sacrifice.
Well good luck to you all. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
We’re so glad we’ve taken the lead on this, and it’s something positive, something that helps the community. We’re asking men to support us. It goes toward a good cause. Those who want to contribute can send their tax-deductible contribution to Indianapolis Alumni Chapter — No Shave Challenge, P.O. Box 88301, Indianapolis, IN, 46208.
The rest of this year and beyond, Kappa Alpha Psi is doing things with a purpose, so we just want the community to continue to support us.
To further support this cause, Tweet @IndyKappa_1911 and use hashtags #MensHealthMatters and #FitForGood