Monday, July 21, 2008


Members of the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference Planning Committee listen to Chairman Phyllis Clark present information about this July 26 event that will empower everyone, especially Blacks, to take charge of their physical, spiritual and emotional health.

(Riverside, Calif.) – Statistics show Black men in the Inland Empire live, on average, to be only 56 years old, and Black women live to an average of 63 years.

That’s about 13 years less than white people in the area.

When the African-American Health Initiative publicized these statistics a few years ago, some agencies decided to do something about it. In 2005, a coalition formed to put on the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference.

The Fourth Annual Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference is set for Saturday, July 26 at California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside.

“This is the premier wellness conference in this area,” said Phyllis Clark, chairman of the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference planning committee. “It is well-established and well-sponsored.”

Sponsorships for this year’s conference are still available. They include The American Cancer Society, Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America (PhARMA), Southern California Edison, the Riverside Community Health Foundation, Inland Agency, Dameron Communications, Brothers and Sisters in Action (BASIA), Abbott Vascular and Novartis.

These sponsorships allow the conference organizers to put the event on at no charge.

The conference features some top-notch speakers, both local experts and those from outside the Inland Empire. But participants also can learn more about taking charge of their health in at least 40 information booths that will be set up in or near a courtyard by Cal Baptist’s Wallace Theater.
“This is a solutions-based conference,” Clark said. “People walk away with information they can apply.”

For instance, in one booth – actually a mobile medical clinic – doctors working with the University of California, Irvine Medical School will conduct clinical breast exams for women, and prostate cancer screenings for men.

In another booth, the American Cancer Society will give people a Colon Awareness Questionnaire, a survey designed to promote awareness of the benefits of colonoscopies in detecting early forms of colon cancer. Colonoscopies, and other types of screenings such as mammograms are performed in medical clinics with specialized equipment, but like the more basic breast and prostate exams, are vital tools in keeping people healthy.

“We want to make sure people know colon cancer is preventable and curable,” Clark said.

Most people should start having colonoscopies when they are 50 years old, Clark said. Since Blacks are more genetically predisposed to colon cancer, doctors often urge them to begin these screenings at age 40 or 45, and people with a close relative who contracted colon cancer early in life are often urged to have their first colonoscopy in their 20s or 30s.

Yet another American Cancer Society booth will feature “Ask the Experts.” Three specially trained health care workers will be on hand in this booth to answer questions. They can’t discuss specific cases, but can provide general knowledge about many health care subjects, especially those involving cancer.

And if you get there early, you can take a class in healthy eating at the Riverside County Nutrition Services booth. This is information you can pass on to others who would like to make healthy changes to their diet.

This 30-minute class, offered from 7:15 a.m. to 7:45 a.m., and again from 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., is designed for both health care professionals and others, said Diane Wayne, a senior nutritionist with Riverside County Nutrition Services. It will address how to lower cholesterol and fats, and skills needed to select heart-healthy foods.

“And you will get a free cook book,” Wayne said.

The course is free, but participants must register Riverside County Nutrition Services before the day of the event. Call (951) 358-5880 to register or for more information about this course.
In a nearby booth, Chef Tony Stemley of French Quarter Catering will have his healthy sweet potato pie for sale. During the afternoon portion of the conference, Stemley will explain healthy cooking as part of a panel discussion on wellness.

From 7:30 a.m. through 9:30 a.m. Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference participants are encouraged to walk about the booths on the Cal Baptist campus, availing themselves of all the resources provided.

The conference itself begins at 9:30 a.m. with presentations until noon by guest speakers. Conference participants will then enjoy a healthy and complementary lunch, and may continue to visit the booths to learn more about being healthy.

The keynote speaker Nikia Hammonds Blakely, represents the Susan G. Komen Foundation as a member of both its Young Women’s Advisory Council and its Circle of Promise speakers’ bureau, which targets Black women. Hammonds Blakely will not only give a motivational speech which explains how she became a breast cancer survivor when she was just 16 years old, but also will provide musical entertainment.

Other speakers are:

· Dr. E.M. Abdlulmumin, a psychologist at the University of California – Riverside Counseling Center and psychology professor for the Thomas Haider UCR/UCLA Program in Biomedical Sciences at UCR. Dr. Abdulmumin is also the founder and executive director of the DuBois Institute, a recreational and educational program for youth at the Bobby Bonds Sports Complex in Riverside.

· Charles Fossett III of Montclair, a sociology professor and author of Heartbrokers and Marriagebrokers, two books that explore personal relationships.

In the afternoon, from 1:10 p.m. to 4 p.m., a wellness panel is facilitated by Pastor Gerald T. Hightower, founder and senior pastor of Purpose Center International in Perris. It also features Dr. Stephen H. Barag, a physician at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, speaking on hypertension and the doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Dave Williams, coordinator of the Riverside County Wellness Program, speaking on the holistic approach to wellness, Chef Anthony Stemley, sharing his techniques to prepare healthy meals and Tiombe Preston, a marriage and family therapist from othe Black Women’s Health Project, speaking on emotional health.

The free Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference is organized by a committee which includes staff members from Riverside County Public Health Department; the American Cancer Society; the Southern California Witness Project, a breast cancer awareness group; Inland Agency; Dameron Communications and many volunteers.

For more information or to attend the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference call (951) 565-4431 or e-mail