Ranking on the 40th position in the top health influencers survey by PRWeek & MM&M for 2019, Aaron Perry is the CEO and founder of Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association. This community advocates and promotes the health of African-American men. The organization was formed to help eliminate challenges and gaps that these men faced with the medical community.
So, how did Perry come up with the idea? Perry often got haircuts at the Madison, Wis., barbershop. It was here he noticed that many of the black male customers discussed their health problems amongst themselves — often restrictively. And most chose not to see doctors or get treatment for the same.
At the age of 27, Perry felt something was wrong with his health and consulted his primary healthcare provider. However, nothing much came out of it. When symptoms like frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and a persistent cough continued, he decided to take matters in his own hand. He finally found a new physician who heard his concerns. Blood tests revealed type II diabetes, a chronic condition that was delayed treatment by almost two years.
It was then Perry also understood the graveness of the situation and the health risks his peers were undertaking by not consulting a physician. He would hear stories after stories from these men who rarely sought medical help or treatment — let alone preventive care. It was then he decided to start the Men’s Health & Education Center inside JP Hair Design — which as per his organization’s website is “Madison’s largest black barbershop.”
He got a $300,000 grant from the University of Wisconsin to open more barbershop health centers. Perry and the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association now offer blood-pressure screening, diabetes monitoring and flu shots in the barbershop’s back-room and are expanding to other barbershops in Wisconsin.
Currently, Perry’s company ranks amongst the top 50 community health advocates for Afro-American men. The mission remains very personal for him. Perry is constantly driving and rebuilding his team to help shift the status quo as a crisis. Perry is working on issues that most others don’t care or seem to address.
Research also reveals that even today, the life-expectancy rates for Wisconsin black men is lower by 7-years as compared to the white men of the state. Those living in Dane County suffer from higher risks of obesity and diabetes as compared to their white peers. Perry believes that while men are willing to talk about health issues, there’s a need for the community to be better prepared to address and act on these health concerns.