Lisa Peyton-Caire and her Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness typically begin planning for their annual health summit in March, which meant that this year, months of preparation were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and efforts re-routed to emergency needs.
As Peyton-Caire was considering taking a year off from the event, community members and past sponsors of Black Women’s Wellness Day began calling and urging for the event to take place as scheduled.
In the middle of a national health crisis, ongoing unrest over police brutality and continued disparities laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic, the two-day virtual event aims to bring inspiration, information and empowerment to Black women.
“We really are trying to push that message that despite the challenges, the bleakness, the uncertainty, the chaos, all the upheaval, that our focus as Black women — and for those who support Black women's health — you've got to focus on how we thrive in spite of this new ambiguous space that we believe we have the opportunity to shape to be better for us,” Peyton-Caire said.
Peyton-Caire, founding CEO and president of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, started the annual event in 2008 at a small public library in Maryland. Since then, the event moved to Dane County and grew to inspire thousands of women over the past decade to improve their health and wellness.
The foundation grew out of the first event and now has a permanent home in the Black Women’s Wellness Center, which celebrated a grand opening in February at 6601 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite A2, on the city’s west side.
Last year’s event brought together 700 guests at the Alliant Energy Center. This year’s virtual event on Sept. 18 and 19 could reach even more people who live outside the Madison area. It is presented by American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and sponsored by over two dozen community groups and businesses.
General admission tickets are $75, with different prices for students and seniors, and attendees can register online through Thursday, Sept. 17 at 12 p.m. Scholarships are also available.
“This is a reminder every year of our progress along the way and why this work is so important and to stay energized in it,” Peyton-Caire said. “This is an inspirational pause that we take, a refresher, our reset button that we push every year in September at this time to look back on where we started, what we've achieved and what we still need to achieve.”
A number of national, state and local speakers, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Milwaukee Democrat, will present over the two days on critical issues facing Black women and inspire them through music, meditation, yoga and more.
Peyton-Caire described the many pandemics occurring — coronavirus, racism, disparities and police brutality — the grief felt by many in the community, and the crushing pressure of inequality.
The Black Women’s Wellness Day sessions and speakers will address these issues but in a way that envisions a “pathway forward to thrive in a new world.”
“We need this to recenter ourselves and to regain some insight and some clarity on where we are, what we're facing and what the solutions and the pathways forward are even in the midst of all of this chaos and all of this institutionalized violence,” Peyton-Caire said.
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