For the first time, Life Chiropractic College West participated in a Bay Area Pride event, which celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community. Life West students and faculty members were at Oakland Pride in early September to represent the chiropractic community and offer chiropractic services to those who were interested. It’s all part of an ongoing effort to embrace diversity and inclusion at the Hayward, Calif., campus for chiropractic students.
Oakland Pride, widely described as the second largest pride event in Northern California, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest pride event in the East Bay, is a daylong festival in the heart of Oakland. Life West was there for a series of events, including a fun run the day before, the parade on Sunday that kicked off the event, and an exhibitor booth set up during the festival.
Being a part of events like this one, and embracing the concepts of diversity and inclusion in campus life, the chiropractic community, and the world at large, are an important part of Life West’s strategic outlook, said Life West President Dr. Ron Oberstein. “The Bay Area is home to one of the most diverse populations in the U.S., and we are committed to embracing diversity as a college in the East Bay,” he said. Life West leaders say that not only is this the first time Life West has participated in a pride event, they believe it’s the first time any chiropractic college has participated.
In an interview with keynote speakers during Life West’s annual chiropractic conference, The WAVE 2018, Dr. Oberstein called diversity and inclusion an important strategic effort for Life West. “We’ve got a mission at the college around diversity and inclusion,” he said. “It’s a really big thing for us. Our graduates go out all over the world to serve, and being accepting of different cultures and lifestyles enables them to take care of more people.”
Kristan Cassady, a senior chiropractic student at Life West and a founding member of the school’s new Equality Council, led Life West contributions to the Oakland Pride event. Being there and a part of the day means a lot to her personally, she said.
“I think the LGBTQ community is a vulnerable population that could benefit so much from chiropractic,” she said. “Being part of that community myself, that’s where part of my passion comes from for carrying this torch, but I also think it’s a great opportunity for the chiropractic world”.
Kristan would like to see Life West’s outreach continue and be mirrored by other schools as well as professionals in the chiropractic community.
“My community often mistrusts medical health providers because of who we are and constantly being judged, but chiropractors have a reputation for being non-judgmental and great listeners. I think more chiropractic schools and chiropractors should be tapping into the LGBTQ community for reaching multiple groups.”
That’s exactly what was happening in Oakland during the pride events.
Several senior students from the Monte H. Greenawalt Health Center at Life West, joined by Life West faculty members Dr. Monique Andrews and Dr. Tamara MacIntyre, were at the 5K Oakland Pride fun run at Oakland’s Lake Merritt the day before the big event. They helped runners warm up and then cared for those who wanted a little more stretching or had chronic injuries that needed attention. The group helped spread the word about the benefits of chiropractic care and talked with fun run participants about what chiropractic adjustments can do for their bodies.
On Sunday, Oakland’s ninth Pride festival was kicked off with a parade. Life West students and faculty were among the 80-plus groups marching up Broadway. A Life West booth was also among hundreds of booths and vendors at the festival. About 20 Life West students volunteered their time during the day in shifts, Kristan said.
Kristan called the event a “super-fun, positive, love-filled day” and said she was happy to see Life West getting involved in events like this since the Equality Council came together two quarters ago.
“It was a great day to show support to our LGBTQ community,” she said. “Having faculty there to be visible as well was important.” Kristan said she hopes it’s the first of many such events for Life West.