For the latest COVID-19 information, visit


News Center

Latest News

Community Engagement & Health Equity, Center News & Funding

Facts & Faith Fridays features innovative community health partnerships

May 26, 2023

Robin Gahan, Sheryl Garland, Aileen Harris and Pastor Lance Watson Robin Gahan, Sheryl Garland, Aileen Harris and Pastor Lance Watson joined Massey Cancer Center’s Facts & Faith Fridays

VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Facts & Faith Fridays this month highlighted two unique partnerships between VCU Health and the Richmond-area community: a camp to encourage school-age children to explore careers in health care, and another initiative to screen and monitor blood pressure at Richmond Public Library branches.

Camp Explore flyers promote a summer camp for students ages 7-10 and ages 11-14 to explore health care professions Camp Explore is a summer camp for students ages 7-10 and ages 11-14 to explore health care professions.

Pastor Lance Watson of Saint Paul’s Baptist Church was joined by Sheryl Garland, chief of health impact at VCU Health System, to discuss “Camp Explore,” the two summer camp programs for elementary school and middle school children launching this year.

“It started with an idea that if we give children a vision of what is possible for their lives early enough in their lives, it can save their lives,” said Watson. While medical careers are the focus of these camps, he said, “If other churches grab ahold of the idea, there could be camps for legal careers, public services, and we could end up with camps all over the city featuring a variety of different angles for our children to examine and explore.”

Garland outlined the activities that children attending the camps can expect, including introductions to various healthcare professions, such as pharmacists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and doctors. Kids will have hands-on learning activities, including learning how to perform hands-only CPR and field trips to area museums.

Robin Gahan, vice president of health strategies for the American Heart Association (AHA), then introduced audience members to a new collaboration to encourage and educate Richmonders about heart health. “Check-It Out: Free Blood Pressure Screening at the Library” was launched in February 2023 as an integrated approach to addressing high blood pressure, which if left unchecked can have devastating consequences including stroke, heart failure and heart attack, and vision loss, among other health issues.

Watch the webinar to learn more about innovative community health initiatives in the Richmond area.


“We took a look at where across the city was there the highest prevalence of high blood pressure,” said Garland. “We then overlaid this map with the geographic regions that the various Richmond Public Libraries serve. We wanted to place this intervention that could be run out of libraries, which tend to be gathering places in communities across the city of Richmond.”

The initiative is a collaboration between the AHA, VCU Pauley Heart Center, Richmond Public Library, Capital Area Health Network, Daily Planet Health Services and Capital Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Based on an evidence-based model, the program offers monthly blood pressure screenings and outreach activities in several library branches.

If community members receive a blood pressure reading in the caution zone, the program offers quick access to providers at two local federally qualified health centers so individuals can receive appropriate follow-up care.

Aileen Harris, executive director of Capital AHEC, said the program’s visually appealing, colorful, easy to read and understandable educational materials meet the community where they are and help open up the door for an ongoing conversation.

To see the upcoming schedule and register for future Facts & Faith Fridays webinars, visit our website.

Written by: Annie Harris

Related News

Center News & Funding, Community Engagement & Health Equity

VCU Massey Comprehensive Carnival postponed

Center News & Funding, Research, Technology

Asit Paul, M.D., shares advances in prostate cancer treatment

Get access to new, innovative care

Get access to new, innovative care

Treatments in clinical trials may be more effective or have fewer side effects than the treatments that are currently available. With more than 200 studies for multiple types of cancers and cancer prevention, Massey supports a wide array of clinical trials.

Search clinical trials
Find a provider

Find a provider

Massey supports hundreds of top cancer specialists serving the needs of our patients. Massey’s medical team provides a wealth of expertise in cancer diagnosis, treatment, prevention and symptom management.

Find a provider