Sometimes, all you need is an idea to start a movement.
Lisa Peyton-Caire had an idea.
Nine years ago, Peyton-Caire sat in her bedroom, mourning the loss of her mother, who died after an unsuccessful bout with heart disease. “My mother passed away at the age of 64. She had a heart attack at 48 and that changed the course of her life and her health.” Peyton-Caire tells Madison365. “My soul was pushing me to come up with something to address and deal with the predicament of black women’s health.”
As Peyton-Caire sat, she began to write. She compiled dozens of names of black women in her life who passed on before their time.
“I said to myself ‘this has to stop’ after I wrote 45-50 names of black women who were not older than 67, with a significant portion of them in their 40s and 50s, who had died of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, or at the hands of violence,” Peyton-Caire remembers. “I looked around and realized [my mother’s health challenges] were not the exception, they were the rule.”
Peyton-Caire wanted to do something to halt this alarming trend, and start the conversation about black women’s health and wellness on a larger scale. “Nobody’s screaming about this. I don’t hear anybody on a megaphone screaming about black women dying prematurely of largely preventable causes,” she says.
Today, we see the movement spawned from Peyton-Caire’s idea as Madison hosts the 8th Annual “Black Women’s Wellness Day.” The event brings together health care professionals, wellness experts, motivational speakers, and community members for a day of inspiration, workshops, testimonies, and knowledge sharing to encourage black women and girls to live healthy, active lifestyles.
“A big part of this event is to intentionally and consciously hit women in the heart, and in the mind, and in the soul,” Peyton-Caire says. “[We want to impact women] in a way where they won’t leave ‘Black Women’s Wellness Day’ in the same way that they came in.”
“Black Women’s Wellness Day” expects to attract over 500 women and girls this year. Peyton-Caire believes that it is vital to have “Black Women’s Wellness Day” in Madison, considering Wisconsin’s sobering health outcomes for black women and children. “Our state leads the nation in health disparities for black women and their families. It is quite powerful to see an event like [Black Women’s Wellness Day] here in Madison. We’ve never seen an event like this done to this size and magnitude focusing solely on the health and wellness of black women.”
Black Women’s Wellness Day will feature a host of speakers and performers to educate and inspire attendees. Candice Camille, the Wellologist, is the keynote speaker for this year’s event. Camille owns and operates “Pure NuPhoria Bed and Breakfast Wellness Center,” where she provides individualized fitness, nutritional, and wellness coaching for clients.
“Candice Camille is a woman who has transformed her life completely,” Peyton-Caire says. “That transformation is something she has walked through, so she is going to come motivate, generate, and inspire women to take action and confront their lives in her keynote address.”
The event also offers several workshops and four breakout sessions attendees can select to customize their Black Women’s Wellness Day experience. Workshop offerings include “So Fresh and So Clean,” hosted by Rain Truth, a Milwaukee-based vegan chef. Truth, “The Cultured Vegan,” will teach the audience about the benefits of veganism and how to weave vegan meals into their diets. “Activating, Discovering, and Nurturing Your Best Self,” conducted by Dr. Hazel Symonette, aims to inspire participants to manifest an action plan to achieve their goals.
“This is a transformational, hands-on, interactive workshop where women will leave that space with a plan,” Peyton-Caire says. “[Participants will] access their challenges and where they want to go, their strengths and assets, and put these things into motion to really design the life that they want.”
For the second time since its inception, “Black Women’s Wellness Day” will also offer “Be Your Bright, Bold, Beautiful Self,” a teen-focused breakout session for young women to have a conversation about self-love, physical health, and financial health.
“We want to engage girls in talking about health and wellness early. [Girls discussing wellness early on] is so crucial.” Peyton-Caire says. ”After the structured conversation, we want the girls to lead us into what they want to talk about. Hearing their voices is vital.”
The focus on black women’s health and wellness will not stop on September 24th. “Black Women’s Wellness Day” is just one of several events hosted throughout the year by The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, which offers programming and outreach work throughout the year. Current initiatives include the “SisterCircles Wellness Gathering” for women and the “SisterSessions Wellness Program” for teens. Both programs aim to bring women and girls together for informal conversations to “learn, grow, and share as they build wellness-based lifestyles and practice healthy behaviors,” Peyton-Caire says. The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness is also planning their 6th annual “Wear Red Day,” a national event focusing on heart health that takes place each February.
“Black Women’s Wellness Day” takes place on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Alliant Energy Center from 9 a.m.-5:30 pm. For more information on “Black Women’s Wellness Day” and The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, please visit their website.