by Jasmine Zapata, MD
Nearly 500 guests, sponsors and vendors attended the 7th Annual Black Women’s Wellness Day this past Saturday September 19, 2015 at the Alliant Energy Center. This sold-out event was hosted by the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, a Wisconsin based non-profit organization committed to informing, inspiring and empowering Black women and girls to build and sustain healthy, thriving and wellness centered lives.
Its core mission is to eliminate health disparities and other barriers impacting the lives of women of African descent and to establish a culture of wellness among women through education outreach and support circles. The event began with a special workshop for senior women entitled “Living Well at Every Age” followed by a special Yoga session teaching women the importance of stress relief and peace. Following the morning sessions a delightful lunch buffet was served with special guest poets, authors, drummers and local DJs providing entertainment. As lunch was served hundreds of women participated in the wellness fair, which consisted of an array of vendors from the local community, non profit organizations and local health organizations. Free blood pressure screenings and relaxation massages were also provided.
Throughout the day, participants were encouraged to sign a wellness pledge declaring to live well, take responsibility for their health, honor their body, embrace their beauty, give life, and build a legacy of wellness for themselves and their future generations. Participants also had the opportunity to create an individualized personal wellness plan. Over $3,500 in prizes were provided to guests via raffles and giveaway bags. The signature event began at noon and included special remarks by founder and president of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, Lisa Peyton-Caire. Caire received a standing ovation as she took the stage and encouraged women of all colors to take ownership of their health and create a NEW vision for themselves and their communities.
Legacy awards were then presented to a handful of local and national African-Americans who have contributed outstanding work in the field of community wellness. This was followed by a remarkable keynote address by Loretta Ross, co-founder of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. Ms. Ross is a national expert on women’s issues and has devoted her life’s work to combat hate groups, racism, and violence against women. She has appeared on CNN, BET and various other national television shows advocating for women’s rights and social justice.
Her breathtaking keynote address at this year’s Black Women’s Wellness Day included a description of her childhood abuse and subsequent pregnancies, her journey to complete college despite many obstacles and how she became interested in reproductive justice. She also urged the crowd never to give up on their dreams.
“Just because you ain’t achieved your dream, doesn’t mean it’s not too late to finish it…. I do this work because what happened to us shouldn’t continue to happen to our children,” she passionately declared.
The day continued with an afternoon of high energy, informative, and empowering workshops centered around themes of reclaiming wellness, creating new vision, claiming financial freedom, equipping families for a new future, mental health, and resiliency.
There was also a special afternoon workshop for adolescent girls that focused on inner beauty, self esteem, healthy choices, confidence, and purpose. The girls were encouraged that they had the power to change the statistics and create a new vision for the future. It was led by a host of African American physicians and other volunteers from the community and ended with the young women verbalizing their vision for a healthy future and what they need from their community to achieve that dream.
They day concluded with an inspiring and powerful SisterCircle focusing on the theme of “A New Vision for Black Women,” followed by a special post-event reception for Loretta Ross.
The 8th Annual Black Women’s Wellness day will be held on Saturday September 24, 2016 at the Alliant Energy Center. The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness has many exciting plans in the meantime. They plan to launch Monthly SisterCircle Meetings and the “Empower Me Wellness Project,” an intergenerational health ambassador training initiative for African American women and girls in targeted Greater Madison neighborhoods and communities. To stay updated on upcoming events and programs you can visit http://eepurl.com/woFIn . This organization is positioned to do great things in the community in the upcoming year!
Jasmine Zapata, MD is an African-American pediatrician, motivational speaker, health educator, preventive health advocate, and community volunteer from the Madison area, whose mission is to heal, uplift, empower and inspire. She can be reached at www.facebook.com/drjasminezapata or at firstname.lastname@example.org.