Lisa Peyton-Caire wants women to move from just surviving and just getting by to really living their lives to the fullest. “We preach to women that, 'You have the power.' No matter what the statistics say, no matter what the health outlook says, no matter what your experiencing today, the power of choice and behavior change which starts with you can shift and change the trajectory of your entire life,” Peyton-Caire says.
Peyton-Caire is once again organizing and will host the 5th Annual Black Women's Wellness Day. The annual health summit and empowerment event will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall. The theme of the event is “Embrace Your Life.”
“This is going to be the biggest Black Women's Wellness Day that we've ever done,” Peyton-Caire says in an interview with The Madison Times at the Urban League of Greater Madison building. “It's going to be full of everything you can imagine related to wellness. It's a full day of activities, workshops, and great speakers.”
Peyton-Caire is the founder of The Foundation for Black Women's Wellness, a Wisconsin based non-profit organization committed to empowering Black women and girls to build and sustain healthy, thriving, wellness-centered lives. Their core mission is to eliminate health disparities and other barriers impacting the lives of women of African descent, and to establish a culture of wellness among women through education, outreach, and support circles.
“The numbers that we're looking at in health disparities, economic and employment disparities can be disheartening,” Peyton-Caire says. “There's a huge burden that black women are carrying in terms of this quality of life. So pushing them to say, 'embrace your life' makes them do a full life scan – where am I and where do I really want to be? It's a tough thing to do on your own, but with people around you, it's easier. That's why this whole notion of sisterhood and empowering women to speak for themselves – that's how this event has grown so much.”
The morning will open with a Wellness Fair that will feature 35 vendors and exhibitors including health providers, wellness practitioners, entrepreneurs. “It will be a good vibe with a lot of networking going on,”
There will be an11:30 opening session followed by breakout sessions that tackle various health topics of mind, body, and spirit wellness. There will be door prizes, goodie bags, and free massages. Tanya Morgan Dixon, founder and director of the National GirlTrek Organization, will make a special video presentation to the ladies.
The keynote speaker will be Hitaji Aziz, the founder and owner of Peacemaker Enterprise. Aziz has a master's degree in counseling psychology from the Union Institute & University. She is a multi-faceted woman of strength dedicated to social and planetary healing nationally and internationally since 1965.
“She is amazing person who has overcome a lot. She really embodies are “Embrace Your Life' theme in every way. She's survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, homelessness... you name it; she's experienced it. And now she uses all of that to shape her work to empower women and men.
“I can't wait for her to touch down in Madison,” Peyton-Caire adds. “I had met her in previous work that I was doing in Maryland during the early beginnings of thinking about creating a venue for women to talk about their lives – mind, body, and spirit. We just found each other on the Internet. Our missions and our visions for black women empowerment really aligned. ”
Aziz will deliver a very powerful message around the conference's theme of 'Embrace Your Life.'
“It will really culminate and pull together everything the women have heard all day about our health – what are our threats to our health as black women; what do the disparities look like, what are the stats, what do we know, and what have we learned about how we can reverse this.... what kind of power do we have as individuals to overcome and to redefine what wellness and health look like,” Peyton-Caire says. “I think she's going to bring an element of what we really need women to hear right at this moment in Madison,” Peyton-Caire adds.
Peyton-Caire launched Black Women's Wellness Day in May 2008 in honor of her mother Roberta W. Peyton who succumbed to heart disease at the age of 64 on May 22, 2006. Every year, the day has grown and brought more women together under a different theme.
“We chose 'Embrace Your Life' for a theme this year because we that's the message we really want women to leave with,” Peyton-Caire says. “We want them to realize that the time has come as women to embrace their lives fully.... to look in the mirror and do the hard work of asking how they really feel? How am I really faring? Am I doing well? And what can I do better? What issues do I need to confront around my mind, body, spirit, health, and wellness?”
This year's Wellness Day theme, 'Embrace Your Life!' marks a culmination of the last five years' work to empower women and girls to take a giant leap forward in radically improving their individual and collective health and in building thriving, joyful, satisfying lives.
“We've done a lot of work over the last year after last year's event. We've done meetings, forums, groups on black women's fitness, workshops on sustainability, green eating and urban farming. We've done outreach in the past but we're going to really push that forward and announce at the event that we are going to start our monthly wellness workshops. We are going to have a yearlong series around different health topics – food, fitness, mental health, diabetes education, heart disease prevention.”
Through the years, Peyton-Caire has brought hundreds of women of all ages into the movement to improve their health and wellness. Her close affinity to health advocates, medical professionals, and wellness practitioners has helped her in her own life to be as healthy as she can possibly be.
“I've lived a pretty healthy lifestyle but I find myself moving a little closer to that optimum ideal... I'm tweaking that to get to that next level. I'm always looking for new things and looking to be conscious on focusing on myself,” Peyton-Caire says. “There's a self-neglect piece that runs through women in general – we hold families together, we work, we are superwomen. We walk around carrying these tremendous responsibilities and we prioritize our lives based on everything except self. We come last in line – that's the nature of women. I've really had to say to myself: 'Are you practicing what you are preaching when you are telling other women to eliminate or reduce stress in your lives?'”
At the very least, Peyton-Caire hopes that the 5th Annual Black Women's Wellness Day starts an active dialogue around critical health and wellness issues among Black women in the Madison area and beyond.
“Our goal is to change and transform women's lives. We want women to walk in this door and experience this event in the spirit that it is delivered. We want them to have leave having heard something – a testimony from someone, some information delivered by a health professional.... and to grab onto at least one thing to say, 'I have the power to go home and transform this area of my life where I know I need improvement.'”
Wants to reach more and more women each year.
“There's an energy and a spirit and a shift in the minds and the hearts of African American women who are saying, 'We need something different... but we can create it ourselves. We're not waiting for it to arrive to us... We're going to write this story ourselves.' Ultimately, we're going to transform how women live....and tranform our community.”
The 5th Annual Black Women's Wellness Day. The annual health summit and empowerment event will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall, 9:00am-5:30pm.
Register today at www.bwwday2013.eventbrite.com
Call (608) 729-1264 for sponsorship or vendor/exhibitor inquiries or for general questions.