You can now call Philadelphia the city of Sisterly Love! This past weekend the BET Foundation kicked off their 7th annual Women’s Health Symposium, connecting women with local health experts to educate them on how to make healthier lifestyle choices.
Mayor Michael Nutter says that Philly was the ideal place to kick off this national tour: “64% of the adults and 57% of the children in Philadelphia were classified as overweight or obese. I could go on with more startling statistics, but that could take all day.”
More than 1,100 women were in attendance and watching them in the parking lot of Sharon Baptist Church doing the cha cha and the hitchhike was more than inspiring. The work out wasn’t the only activity offered. The BET Foundation catered to the minds, bodies, and souls of the participants by providing healthy cooking demonstrations, free health screenings, a gospel performance by Deborah Cox, and blissful massages courtesy of BJ from Pampered Bodies Spa. Along with the pampering came lessons about obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease prevention, which so many of African American women suffer disproportionately.
Debra Kilpatrick, BET Foundation’s Program Director talked about the importance of the symposium. “We have high numbers of cardiovascular disease issues, and because of that it’s so important for women who are primarily the caregivers at home to address this issue.”
26 year old Crystal Bradley was inspired to come to the symposium after recently watching her friend suffer a stroke. “This is showing me how to really value my health.” And actress Bern Nadette Stanis whose claim to fame is portraying Thelma from TV’s classic Good Times, was on hand to share her story and struggle. “I care for my mother who has Alzheimer’s and I know that I am apart of that and I don’t want to get that, so I just want to be healthy.”
This is the first of four events that will be held across the nation. Next stops include: Chicago, DC, and Atlanta. The message of this event “Health Matters” was more than conveyed with women walking away healthier and happier. And with the staggering risks that so many African American women face…health really does matter.