Dane County’s first-ever Black Women’s Health and Wellness Center experienced its “soft opening” on Saturday, Jan. 4, and the first day of health and wellness programming at the highly anticipated center was about as joyous as you can imagine.
“We had a full house! It was wall-to-wall women in the space who got to get a nice preview of our center. It was amazing to hear the laughter and to see the smiles. It was a place of sisterhood and joy,” Lisa Peyton-Caire, CEO and president of The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, tells Madison365. “We crossed a major milestone and made history with the opening of this Black Women’s Wellness Center. That was awesome for these women to see a sneak peek before we officially have our grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 1.
“It was like a dream come true to be able to open the doors for women to come in and to see their faces and to know and understand that this space is by and us and for us. It’s what we’ve been talking about and planning for so long and now it has come to fruition,” she adds. “I feel so blessed that the vision that we’ve held so close to our hearts continues to unfold in the opening of our center. It’s just the next level of evolution for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness.”
The Madison-based Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness works to empower black women and girls to build and sustain healthy, thriving, wellness-centered lives. Over the last several months, the organization has been planning, designing and preparing for the opening of the new center located on Madison’s west side.
“Our health and wellness programming is a core reason why we exist – offering women opportunities and experiences to improve their health,” Peyton Caire says. “We opened our doors on Saturday for the launch of our Project Live Well program.”
Project Live Well is a semester-long program that focuses on fitness and nutrition and healthy living principles.
“That programming is sponsored by and made possible by a grant from the Minority Health Program that we received this year and, of course, our anchor funders – the Healthy Dane Collaborative, Madison Gas and Electric,” Peyton Caire says. “Funding from all of these sources enabled us to launch this program which is serving an intergenerational audience of women who will get access to weekly fitness classes like aerobics, dance, yoga, nutrition education.”
A great group of professional fitness instructors provides the weekly fitness classes that will be held every Wednesday and Saturday from January to the end of July.
“Women who sign up for our Project Live Well program will also have access to the “Get Moving” classes that we also co-sponsor that are provided at the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center and at the UW South Madison Partnership that are offered on Monday and Thursday,” Peyton Caire says. “So there are multiple classes that women can attend based upon their schedule and what’s convenient for them. The whole purpose is to really immerse them into wellness behavior and support them in setting and meeting specific wellness goals.”
The Black Women’s Health and Wellness Center has been a dream of Peyton-Caire for years. Just last year, with fantastic community support, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness was able to raise over $100,000 through a recent GoFundMe that really made the dream a reality.
For that effort, Peyton Caire was recently honored as one of six innovative changemakers from all over the United States at the first annual GoFundMe Heroes Celebration in San Francisco, California.
The larger official grand opening for the whole community of the Black Women’s Health and Wellness Center, located at 6601 Grand Teton Plaza, will take place on Feb. 1, noon-3 p.m.
“We cannot wait for the people of our community to come out and see our center on Feb. 1. We can’t wait to show people what we’ve been able to create through our commitment and the community’s support,” Peyton Caire says. “We want to invite people into the space to show them that the vision that they have invested in has come to life and that they have helped us create this beautiful thing.”
In the meantime, Peyton Caire is still cherishing the first day Saturday’s soft opening.
“The joy, the laughter, the energy, and the positive vibe of that first day I will never forget,” Peyton Caire says. “It’s a space that was created in love and the belief that we have the power as black women to create our own solutions and to improve our health despite the statistics and the disparities that we see. At the end of the day, we’re all about generating life and joy and possibilities and longevity.”