From its humble beginnings, Black Women’s Wellness Day, the signature event for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, has grown over the years to become the place to be.
Yet Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness Day founder Lisa Peyton Caire can still remember back on Friday, May, 22, 2009, when just a few dozen women gathered for the very first Black Women’s Wellness Day event at the Bowie Public Library in Bowie, Maryland. On Saturday, Sept. 21, however, Peyton Caire is expecting at least 600 women at the Alliant Energy Center.
“This is the 11th annual event. I still can’t believe it. When I say that aloud, I immediately have all of these emotions thinking about how it all began with my laptop and my grief over my mother’s passing and the immediate need to do something and create something beautiful to help women live their healthiest lives,” Peyton Caire tells Madison365. “It’s been an incredible journey over these 11 years of advancing black women’s health.
“This year’s Black Women’s Wellness Day is all about motivating, inspiring, empowering, and mobilizing women to embrace what it means to be a well black woman and to put themselves into action around creating blissful, healthy lives,” she adds.
Since its inception, the Foundation for Black Women’s Health, a Madison-based non-profit organization committed to eliminating health disparities and other barriers impacting the lives of African American women and girls, has been helping to shape the narrative and conversations in this community. And they’ve been making an impact.
“Nobody was really talking about black women’s health or well-being or prioritizing it at the level to bring community members and stakeholders together to take it seriously,” Peyton Caire says. “I believe we’ve really done that and we’re turning a corner to where our work is really beginning to grow and expand impacting women individually, and impacting policies. Our new center will help expand our work and our wellness ambassadors are active in the community and our network is growing across the state.”
The Foundation For Black Women’s Wellness will be taking more bold steps in attacking racial health disparities that exist in Dane County by opening the first Black Women’s Health & Wellness Center in the community. They’ve recently raised $100,000 towards that cause and plan on updating the community at Black Women’s Wellness Day on the exact date the new center will open.
“There’s an incredible vibe and energy that’s happening right now,” says Peyton Caire, who served on Gov. Tony Evers health policy advisory council earlier this year. “We’re picking up the pace. I’ve been doing this for many years as a solo CEO and founder. I’m oftentimes doing the work in isolation while carrying on other responsibilities. It’s great to see many women mobilized to help with the next chapter.”
The theme for this year’s Black Women’s Wellness Day is “Rise of the Well Black Women.”
“We’ve expanded the number of vendors and exhibitors that will be present at the event showcasing programs, services and products. Right now, we’re inching close to 80,” Peyton Caire says. “We’re planning on having that in one of the huge exhibition halls so we can really spread out that vibrant, village energy that is typical at our Wellness Fair.”
Each year, for the past several years, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness has honored several people locally – and, in a few cases, nationally – at the Black Women’s Wellness Day event. These are women who are making key contributions to advancing black women’s health and well-being. This year, they will honor two very special people with Legacy Awards.
“This year we are very happy to be honoring two local women including Sheray Wallace, founder of Meadowood Health Partnership,” Peyton Caire says. Meadowood Health Partnership is a collaborative of community-based organizations, city government entities, and local health agencies working together to provide information services and access to residents living in the Meadowood community. “We will also honor Dr. Debbie Jones, one of our board members and a hospitalist as SS Health/Dean and probably the first hospitalist in Wisconsin, by our assessment. She’s been a trailblazer in her field and a great helper and supporter of Black Women’s Wellness Day.”
Brandi Grayson will also be presented with a Sister Soldier Award for her “passionate work and commitment in advancing social justice in the community,” Peyton-Caire says.
“We’re also going to issue a special award to a community woman who has personified perseverance and overcoming and living her best life facing adversity and challenges,” Peyton Caire says. “We will announce that at the event. It will be very emotional and compelling.”
The keynote speaker will be attorney Natasha D. Mayne, a motivational speaker, social media influencer, success coach, writer, and much more.
“Natasha Mayne is from Florida. I met her online. She really generates lots of vibrant energy in her social media posts and messages to women,” Peyton Caire says. “It was through those posts and the embodiment of what I see as a well black woman – healthy and glowing. I saw how her passion impacted others and I knew I had to reach out her to be our keynote speaker and she would fit very well into our theme of ‘Rise of the Well Black Woman.’”
There will be numerous workshops at the 11th Annual Black Women’s Wellness Day, and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes will join The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness and offer brief remarks at the Keynote Luncheon.
“We have several local speakers who folks will recognize from Madison and Milwaukee who will be leading those workshops and sessions,” Peyton Caire says.
K Love the Poet will be a featured speaker, as well. She is an award-winning, internationally renowned spoken-word artists and motivational speaker who made her 2003 debut in the heart of Chicago’s vibrant poetry scene.
“There’s a young woman’s session again this year featuring Dr. Jasmine Zapata, who is the planner and facilitator of that session every year,” Peyton Caire says.
Keena Atkinson, a certified yoga instructor, WERQ dance fitness instructor, and Breathe for Change Yoga teacher trainer, will be back again this year to lead activities at the Fitness Stage of the Black Women’s Wellness Fair. A popular FFBWW-BWWDAY presenter, Shannon All Around, founder & president/CEO of Milwaukee’s Shannon’s All Around Sports Fitness, will join the Wellness Fair this year
“We’re so happy that several local school districts will be bringing busloads of girls. We think that we may have almost 100 young girls from Madison, Sun Prairie and Middleton at the event,” Peyton Caire says. “This event is really growing. Last year, we were just over 500 people and this year we’re pushing 600. We’ve been keeping it around those numbers because we’re a small organization with a tiny staff. Once we really build out, I can see this event becoming a 1,000-person event in the next couple of years.
“It’s cool to see the growth year by year,” she continues. “A significant amount of our guests are return guests year to year. So women who’ve been to Black Women’s Wellness Day keep coming back which is an excellent indicator that we are really impacting people’s lives.”
The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness and Black Women’s Wellness Day are both dedicated to Peyton-Caire’s mother Roberta Peyton, who passed away at the age of 64 to heart disease on May 22, 2006.
“My mom was an amazing, kind, beautiful person. She was loving and giving. She embodies that energy that so many women now tell us that they experience when they come to Black Women’s Wellness Day,” Peyton Caires says. “My mother’s energy and her spirit lives on. It’s powerful.”
The 11th Annual Black Women’s Wellness Day will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center. To register, click here. Registration will close at tonight at midnight.