It is a good time for the future of black women’s health in Madison. That much becomes clear when one speaks about attacking the gaps and disparities in black women’s health with Lisa Peyton-Caire, who founded the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness a decade ago.
Now, with the 10th annual Black Women’s Wellness Day event coming up on Saturday, September 22, Peyton-Caire and all of the women who have fought for community recognition of women’s health disparities are proud of the example they have set.
“We’re one part of many, many efforts that will move the needle for issues around quality of life and health issues for black women,” Peyton-Caire told Madison365. “This day of celebration we’re going to have is beautiful and big and awesome, but there’s a mountain of work that happens beyond this day. So that ten, twenty years down the road we can say we solved the disparities and gaps in areas of health in our lives.”
Saturday’s event, which will take place from 9 am-5:30 pm at the Alliant Energy Center, will celebrate the the efforts of a multitude of women who have been coming together for years in the Madison community to focus on many aspects of wellness.
The event will feature sixty different vendors participating in a health fair providing materials and resources for healthy living. There will be an array of workshops focusing on topics such as how to practice self-care, health issues, advocacy, policy, how to motivate oneself and generate change. The workshops will be hosted by women with experience in turning the corner into better lifestyles.
From 1-3:30 pm, there will be a workshop for teen girls hosted by Dr. Jasmine Zapata. The girls will be able to learn about what wellness means and how to shape their understanding of what it means to be healthy from a young age. Joanna Brooks will also be on hand to give Yoga instruction.
This year’s event features two keynote speakers. The first will be Byllye Avery, the founder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Avery began the Imperative several years ago as a grassroots organization in Georgia to help raise awareness about the alarming disparities black women, in particular, face in health care. Avery was able to galvanize her community and create policy changes that affected black women’s health.
Linda Galer Blount, the current president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative will be the other keynote speaker in front of what Peyton-Caire says will be a sold out event. Over 550 people are expected to attend the event, a far cry from what it was when it began ten years ago.
Lisa Peyton-Caire began the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness a decade ago following the tragic and early passing of her mother from congestive heart disease. Peyton-Caire said the disease is common both in her family and in many women of color particularly. She felt like it was her calling to really learn all she could about how to bring women together to be educated about their own health and have dialogue about issues that many people keep private.
While still living in the Washington D.C area, Peyton-Caire brought together black women from that community and began the first iterations of the Foundation.
Seven years ago, when she and her family moved back to the Madison area, Peyton-Caire continued the work and found that the response from the community was overwhelming.
“It started with 40 women in a library,” Peyton-Caire said. “Now it’s over 500 people! I wanted to grow this and keep it going and expand the work. It has taken hold in Madison, where the need is really great. The reception once we brought it here was so tremendous and led to the creation of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness. It’s working to eliminate health disparities for black women. We’ve been able to reach a thousand women and girls.”
For the tenth annual event, Peyton-Caire wanted to pull out all the stops. The size of the crowd, the number of vendors, having dual keynote speakers and a major venue are all signs that Peyton-Caire was not alone all those years ago in wondering what she could do to combat the health issues facing women in her family.
“To see over 400 black women in one place at one time in Madison, Wisconsin, is pretty special,” Peyton-Caire told Madison365. “This is about women who want to live their best life. Black women are concerned about and deeply interested in their health and the health of their community. This is an event for black women by black women! We want to take this community from worst to best for black women’s health, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”