Charlnitta "Mama Chi" Ellis, director of the Check Yo' Self Health & Wellness Center beamed as she talked about the past 23 of resounding success that the program she directs has experienced. "Look, don't get it twisted. We've been out here doing this prevention and awareness work for 23 years. And, guess what? HIV still ain't no joke. It wasn't a joke when we started this program over two decades ago and it ain't no joke now.
When asked what she was most proud of during her 23 years of service, Ellis answered, "You know, I'm always most proud of the work that the young people put in to make this program a success. The Check Yo' Self Crew has always been the foundation of this program. Whether it's recording music and putting out a CD about HIV/AIDS and STD prevention or distributing safer sex kits at all the different community events, it's the young people who are out here making a difference and saving lives each day.
Currently, the Check Yo' Self Health & Wellness Center administers the HIV/AIDS/STD (HAS) Program, SIHLE, Safer Choices, SHARP, College Cafe, Check Yo' Self Crew and the XY & Z Intervention.
Amazingly, 23 years later, the Check Yo' Self Crew still rotates (meets) every Wednesday afternoon at 4:00p.m., where they learn, teach, and eat together.
Ellis thinks the next 23 years are going to be just as impactful. "There are so many health disparities we need to keep trying to eliminate among African Americans and communities of color. We're going to keep pushing to make sure that our young brothers and sisters--and all people in Minnesota--can live safer, healthier lives. For more information on the Check Yo' Self Crew, call (651) 294-3023 or visit www.checkyoself.net.