Ninth Annual Black Women’s Wellness Day
Shifting the Health Paradigm
|Above: Brenda Brown (l-r), Corinda Rainey-Moore, Carola Gaines, Lisa
Peyton-Caire, the founder of Black Women’s Wellness Day, Theola
Carter, Debbie Jones, Janetta Pegues and Mary Wells
“I’m retired and I’ve been working since I was 13-years-old and even before then,” Brenda Brown said. “I chose where I pinpoint my time and I
want to be a part of things that actually have an outcome and make a difference. Black Women’s Wellness is in the top five of mine and it’s an
opportunity that I don’t want to miss. You never know when your days on earth are going to end. And it really is a work that God has me here to
do. So I pick the places because I want to see health improve for African American women and families.”
Corinda Rainey-Moore likes the fact that the planning team practices what it preaches.
“I picked Black Women’s Wellness because I really like the support that the women bring to the table,” Rainey-Moore said. “I like the fact that
even though we talk about health care a lot, we don’t just focus on the health care piece. We focus on all aspects of what keeps women healthy.
And when one of our women is suffering, we all suffer. There have been times when we’ve come to a meeting and one person will disclose
something tragic that is happening and you will see the transformation in the room, just how we respond differently, how we stop in that moment
to honor and recognize what’s happening with the women.”
For Dr. Debbie Jones, it’s all about the caring for community and each other.
“I’m involved because of love and no other reason,” Jones said. Love compels me to do this. This is my family that we’re talking about and I
love them, the whole rainbow of them. It’s my community that we’re talking about and I love the whole rainbow of it. This is my world we’re
talking about and I love the whole rainbow of it. It’s love that compels me to do this. When I’m tired, I know it’s love that compels Lisa to do this.
Frankly, I think it is love that compels all of us to show up and put forth the herculean effort that it takes to pull off something like this. It is love
that makes us show up year after year to do this. It’s love that demands that we do this again.”
While Peyton-Caire holds down a full-time job and cares for her family, she still is out there spearheading the efforts because of the support of
“Black Women’s Wellness Day, as an event, would be impossible to host without these women for a number of reasons,” Peyton-Caire said.
“Each one of them plays a vital role in planning the event and designing the focus that we give it and really informing our collective sense of
what Black women need each year, what content topics that we really need to drill down on and they all bring expertise from their various
personal and professional experiences to inform how we decide about content and the inspirational appeal of the event. How do we need to
speak to the hearts and lives of Black women around health and wellness, but also around whole-life wellness and just improving their lives?
So, we are all partners in keeping the spirit and the content of this event. And they are also very vital, very practically, in reaching out to the
community and bringing women into the fold to ensure that they show up at the event. There is a lot of heavy promotion and community outreach
going on. They all sell tickets. We all do every part of this. It is a very hands-on endeavor that takes a lot of women to make it happen.”
Black Women’s Wellness Day starts out as a kind of community health plaza with the participants hanging out networking with each other and
perusing the information and goods and services that are offered by different vendors. It is a low key time that is almost like a community
reunion where the women stop and chat and then pick up some health tips or products and then say hello to the next woman they encounter. It is
a very positive time.
And then everyone moves into the luncheon hall for the keynote luncheon is held where the raffle and gift giving commences.
“We are very passionate about our giveaways and our raffles,” Peyton-Caire said. “We’ll be raffling off over 60 plus fabulous prizes throughout
the day for women who attend, anything from free workouts and personal training time to overnight hotels stays at Hotel Red to massage gift
cards. There are so many wonderful prizes that enhance life and make the experience very fun beyond Black Women’s Wellness Day. That’s a
very popular part of our day with many, many chances to win. And we are so thankful for the many community businesses that donate to us each
year so that we can offer those perks and those prizes to the women who attend.”
And this year’s participants are in store for a special treat for Susan L. Taylor, editor emeriti of Essence Magazine and founder of National
CARES Mentoring Movement will be the keynote speaker.
“Every Black woman you mention Susan L. Taylor’s name to, they know who she is,” Peyton-Caire said. “There has actually been quite a bit of
disbelief when I mention who the keynote speaker is. They look at me and say, ‘What? Susan Taylor is coming?’ ‘It’s real that she is coming.’
When we printed the flyers and started to pass them around, it became real for folks. And that has been a big piece of the excitement. We can
only be honored that she accepted our invitation and has the time to visit us here.”
For the past four years, Black Women’s Wellness has run a separate track especially designed for young women.
“Dr. Jasmine Zapata is the key partner in planning that,” Peyton-Caire said. “And the special part about that this year is Susan Taylor will
participate. So the young women, 13-18-years old who attend that session will have the opportunity to meet Susan Taylor directly. It was very
important to her to have the opportunity to engage the young women at this event after her keynote. We are really encouraging mothers and
aunts and grandmothers to register their daughters, Tickets are $25 and they are available at our registration site. This is a 2-3 hour interactive
session that covers personal wellness, confidence building, goal setting and uncovering purpose. It’s a very powerful session for young
women. It is very vital that we talk to young women early about developing a wellness consciousness and a plan and a vision for their lives
and what that means to grow into a healthy focused and self-sufficient young woman.”
While the young women are spending quality time with Susan Taylor, the rest of the day’s attendees will be attending afternoon workshops.
“There are four afternoon workshops and they repeat,” Peyton-Caire said. “Women will have the opportunity to choose from very powerful topics
that range from personal health to improving your life through wellness behaviors to larger issues of infant mortality and maternal and child
health and what that means on a personal level and as a community issue that we all need to gather around and work to reverse the trends that
we are seeing right now. We will talk about financial wellness in a discussion with Summit Credit Union where women will be able to get ‘just
in time’ financial coaching and advice on building their financial wellness, which we know is a crucial part of establishing our healthy well life.
The disparities that we see impacting our community are driven in part by economic disparities. Black women having personal finance skills
and personal finance acumen is vitally important for health.”
And then the day will end with a panel discussion based upon the topics of the day followed by a sharing circle where the participants can talk
about and commit to healthy lifestyles.
“We will close with that very intimate component of us sharing our stories and making that collective commitment to go forth and really commit
individually and collectively to improving our well-being,” Peyton-Caire said.
If the event could be summarized in one word, it would be love.
“Women remark that the spirit in the room and the energy are wonderful,” Peyton-Caire said. “‘I feel so welcome. I feel so loved. All I feel is
love. I feel positivity. All these Black women in the room and we are just exuding positivity.’”
For more information about the love and to buy tickets for Black Women’s Wellness Day, visit www.blackwomenswellnessday.org.
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling
Sometimes there is a silver lining in an otherwise ominous cloud. When
Lisa Peyton-Caire’s mother died at an early age about 10 years ago,
Peyton-Caire established the Black Women’s Wellness Day to honor her
mother and to promote the overall health of Black women, too many of
whom were dying at a young age. When she moved back to Madison
with husband Kaleem and her children three years later, Peyton-Caire
brought with her Black Women’s Wellness Day and the day and the
movement have been having a positive impact on Black women’s
health in the Madison area and beyond ever since.
Over 500 women are expected at the 2017 Black Women’s Wellness Day
event on September 16 at the Alliant Energy Center. And Peyton-Caire
couldn’t put on the event without her planning team made up of some
community activist “all-stars” who have carved out some time in their
busy schedules to help plan for BWWD.