Focused on black women's health

With a permanent home in place, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness can strengthen its efforts to improve the health of black women in Greater Madison.
Bizreportopener Issue 1
Photos courtesy Foundation for Black Women's Wellness
Swathed in vibrant greens and oranges, the Black Women’s Wellness Center features a lounge space and room for fitness and nutrition classes.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

They say good things come to those who wait but advocates still need to make things happen. After nearly a decade, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness finally has a permanent place to call home in Madison.

The new Black Women’s Wellness Center at 6601 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite A2, on the city’s west side opened in early February. The center is a continuation of the Foundation’s work to encourage healthy lifestyle choices for black women and help them overcome health disparities.

Such a space is necessary because despite the outwardly healthy impression of Greater Madison, a 2016 health needs assessment report from UW Health showed disparities in health behaviors, clinical care, socioeconomic factors, and the physical environment along racial lines. The results of these factors are racial disparities in infant mortality, death rate due to stroke and diabetes, low baby birthweight, the worsening of asthma, and the predominance of mental health conditions.

Founder Lisa Peyton-Caire began focusing on black women’s health after losing her mother, Roberta Peyton, in 2006 to congestive heart failure. She was only 64. Peyton-Caire launched Black Women’s Wellness Day exactly two years later, in May 2008, as an annual health summit dedicated to informing, inspiring, and empowering women and girls to build and sustain healthy, wellness-centered lives.This special day brings together women, health partners, wellness practitioners, community leaders, and organizationsin support of black women’s health.

“I realized that what happened to my mother was not the exception, but the norm for far too many women in my family and extended community,” states Peyton-Caire. “Yet, I didn’t hear any alarm bells going off. Black women all around me were dying young in the prime of their lives from largely preventable illnesses, and no one was making a sound about it.”

They do now. Rather than just accepting this as fate, Black Women’s Wellness Day was what Peyton-Caire dreamed about as her contribution to saving black women’s lives. From that first day-long event, she launched the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness in June 2012. The Foundation serves as a vehicle to advance black women’s health as a community and public health priority and to engage black women in health promotion and leadership in order to drive change.

During a ceremony on Feb. 1, Peyton-Caire could finally say, “Come over to the center. We’ve got what you need.” She also noted that the health disparities facing black women affect the entire Madison community. “This place was made possible by everyone in our community. That’s what it takes to empower black women’s health. That’s what it takes to elevate black women’s health in our community.”

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