Samoan company tackles challenges through health expo

EI8HT Sports founder, Esmeralda Lo Tam, is holding a Health Literacy Expo for Pacific Youth in Onehunga, Auckland on February 1st.

The entrepreneur and public health advocate is putting on the ‘by youth, for youth’ expo to tackle the high rates of Pacific people suffering communicable and non-communicable diseases.

“Helping people understand the importance of putting their health first - coming from a Pacific background we’re always told to put other people’s needs before our own,” Lo Tam said.

“That’s just part of our culture, I mean it’s not a bad thing, but it’s also understanding that your health is important and just understanding how the health system works so that they’re able to prioritise and put their health first.”

Lo Tam hopes to encourage people to act early and prevent issues before they arrive, rather than have the health system be “an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.”

She has gotten pretty much all the speakers for the event on board, and said they have all been supportive and encouraging.

“I’ve talked to university lecturers, doctors, nurses, health professionals, clinical psychologists who just wanna come and help, that just wanna come and offer their time to the youth,” Lo Tam said.

“The support has been really overwhelming for me, to know that this isn’t just a dream of mine really but the wider community is supporting it, and wanting better health outcomes for the wider Pacific.”

She said the Expo will be similar to an event EI8HT co-hosted with The Hut HQ in Brisbane last two months ago.

The   inauagural mental health talanoa was a collaboration between Lo Tam and The Hut’s Jada Fa’anana-Schultz, who had been working to empower Nofotane women with Samoa Victim Support Group.

“We collaborated and we wanted to talk about mental health, so it was just bringing in a few different speakers as well, and just starting the conversation really about the importance of mental health and how to start talking about things now so that it improves our future generations,” Lo Tam said.

And she said people were receptive to that event, and the topics discussed:

“The general consensus was that they did want more conversation, and after our one I know there were a couple more workshops that popped up.”

One of the many speakers lined up for the Expo is Latu To’omaga, Director CEO of the Brainwave Trust.

“He’s going to be talking about the neuroscience behind mental health and wellness,” Lo Tam said.

The co-head of Auckland University’s School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies Dr. Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, whose background is in addiction and suicide, is also speaking at the Expo.

EI8HT Sports have also got the backing of Pacific health providers Le Va, Vaka Tautua, Moana Research and local district health boards, who will all be present on the day to offer their services on the spot and going forward.

Lo Tam said she hopes the Pacific youth of Auckland take up the opportunity.

“This is for them, and it’s free. I just really wanna encourage the youth to register online, and come down and use this while it’s here.”

You can register for the event here.

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