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Lisa Peyton-Caire

Lisa Peyton-Caire, founder and president of the Foundation for Black Women's Wellness in Madison, speaks at a conference on women's health initiatives at Monona Terrace in March.

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness in Madison plans to open Dane County’s first black women’s health and wellness center this summer on the city’s West Side.

The center, for which the foundation seeks to raise $100,000 in community funds, will be at 6601 Grand Teton Plaza, “in the center of two of the county’s ZIP codes most impacted by black infant mortality and health disparities, 53719 and 53711,” the foundation said in a statement.

“The opening of our center will amplify our efforts by centralizing our work and programming for even greater impact, and providing a much-needed space for black women of all ages to be immersed in the practice of improving our health,” said Lisa Peyton-Caire, founder and president of the foundation.

The foundation launched Black Women’s Wellness Day in 2009, three years after Peyton-Caire’s mother died at age 64 of congestive heart failure.

According to the foundation, black women in Dane County and Wisconsin are more likely to live with and die from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, conditions that are largely treatable and preventable. Black women are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured and have limited access to quality health care services, the foundation said.

Stressed families, economic struggles and institutional racism are key reasons black babies in Dane County are twice as likely as white babies to be born with low birth weight, which contributes to black infant mortality that is three times greater than for whites, according to a report last month.

In 2016, the Men’s Health and Education Center, catering to black men, opened inside a barbershop on the West Side.

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness said it serves more than 1,000 women and girls annually through health promotion and prevention education, fitness and yoga classes, support circles, one-to-one wellness coaching, and referrals to services and resources that help women achieve stability in their lives.

“Our mission from day one has been to do all ... we can to elevate black women’s health, and to disrupt the disparities that have hampered our lives in this community for far too long,” Peyton-Caire said.

The organization received a boost in funding last fall from the Healthy Dane Funders, made up of Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, SSM Health, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and UW Health. The gift, along with an investment by Madison Gas & Electric, enabled Peyton-Caire, a mother of five, to leave a corporate career in May 2018 to lead the organization full time.

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