A men’s health center housed within a barbershop

The CEO envisions a spot for black men's health
A men’s health center housed within a barbershop
(Amber Arnold/State Journal)

Amid laughter and razors buzzing, customers gather at the west-side barbershop for grooming and well-being checks. Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association opened its Men’s Health and Education Center in JP Hair Design a little more than a year ago, and the dual service seems to have found a niche.

Aaron Perry, founder and CEO of RLWA, recalls “sitting in the chair, getting my haircut and visualizing where I would put a men’s health center if I brought it to the barbershop.” Years later, the health center has become reality.

Perry started his wellness association in 2007, two years after he became the first diabetic, insulin-dependent African American to complete the Ironman Triathlon. Of the 15,600 black males living in Dane County, Perry aims to have up to 30 percent of them participate in RLWA’s programs.

In addition to having formed the partnership with JP Hair Design, the center also hosts a Black Men Run Chapter, organizes an annual men’s health conference and strives for Dane County to be the healthiest county for black men in Wisconsin. All of this is an effort to combat the health disparities facing black men, as documented in a two-page statistical report released in July titled “The Health Conditions of Black Men in Dane County.”

The next goal is to establish the Men’s Health and Education Center as a satellite clinic for one of the Dane County medical facilities. “How about coordinating a haircut appointment with a free oral screening?” Perry asks. He says the established infrastructure of the barbershop and low cancellation rate make it a perfect space for clients to seek health care. “We want men to look good out there and come in here and feel good,” Perry says.

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