The 11th annual Black Women Wellness Day drew nearly 700 people to the Alliant Energy Center Saturday. There were participants from all over the midwest, including more than 100 teens. There were 21 presenters, more than 80 exhibits, 12 workshops and activities; everything resonating with an empowering “Rise of the Well Black Women” theme.
“There was an excitement in the room. You could literally see and feel the rise of the well Black women. They could feel it in their souls. There is a hope and an optimism in the room that here in Dane County and beyond that we can shape our lives to where Black women can thrive, exceed limits, and live their healthiest lives,” Peyton-Caire said.
The Black Women’s Wellness Day is organized by the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, a nonprofit organization committed to eliminating the health disparities for Black women and girls. After 11 years of BWWDAY, Peyton-Caire said this year was different.
“What I wanted people to hear is that we are determined to move Wisconsin from the worst to the best with black women’s health,” Lisa Peyton-Caire said in an interview Thursday. “We can’t do it alone and we want the community to (make) Wisconsin and Dane County the best place to live, thrive and have access to opportunity.”
Nearly a week later, Peyton-Caire said she is still on cloud nine and receiving word from participants on how they want to change their lives after the memorable event. These include calls and emails about starting gym memberships, packing healthy lunches, becoming an advocate and even people wanting to start their own nonprofit organizations.
“There was a sense of women being on fire to make a radical change in their lives and to carve new pathways for themselves. You could feel it in the air. We are just taking full advantage of that,” Peyton-Caire said.
Peyton-Caire said BWWDAY and the FBWW focus on empowerment and focuses on eliminating the unacceptable racial disparities in Dane County and across Wisconsin 365 days a year.
“We work to demonstrate the pathway forward and show Black women that they can change those realities. We provide the inspiration, information and empowerment to believe that they can drive and direct change in their health and their quality of life. We take the second step by emphasizing that improving Black women’s health is not just the work of individuals, but a whole community.”
Peyton-Caire said supporters came out in a big way – there were sponsors, health care providers, small businesses and a number of public officials including who came to show their support including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Madison Mayor Staya Rhodes Conway, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and State Representatives Chris Taylor and Sheila Stubbs.
Healthy Dane, a collaboration between UW Health, SSM Health, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and Group Health Cooperative, committed another $100,000 to FFBWW at the event, in addition to Madison Gas and Electric and National Guardian Life Insurance Company who committed to continuing their long term investments to the FFBWW.
“This year’s event was just a reflection of the incredible need for what we do and how our message and our work is resonating with black woman. We are a voice for Black women and we are driving home this message that our health and our well being are our top priority and we are determined to make sure our community cares,” Peyton-Caire said.
The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness will soon open the first Black Women’s Health & Wellness Center in the community.