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Meeting Notes

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FALL 2001

Black Women Come Together to Put Their Health First
by Leslie Curtis, Director, WIN

Photo of Donna Richardson and other participants on the walk “Today I give you permission to take better care of yourselves,” cheered Donna Richardson, fitness expert, as she led warm-up exercises for over 300 Black women and their children and friends at the Franklin D. Reeves Center in Washington, DC. The warm-up preceded a 1.8 mile walk and health fair that launched the WIN-sponsored Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better awareness program on October 20, 2001.

Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better encourages Black women to maintain a healthy weight by becoming more physically active and eating healthier foods. NIDDK initiated the program in the nation’s capital to call attention to the health risks associated with high rates of overweight and obesity among African American women. Recent statistics indicate that more than 50 percent of Black women are overweight or obese, and the numbers are steadily rising. High-fat diets, super-sized portions, and lack of physical activity are resulting in extremely high rates of type 2 diabetes in Black women. Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Photo of NIDDK Deputy Director Dr. Griffin Rodgers and Donna Richardson“We know how tough it is to modify lifelong habits,” explained NIDDK Deputy Director Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Grand Marshal of the Sisters Together launch. “This is precisely why we are not telling Black women to give up their favorite foods or run a marathon. We hope that today’s walk and other activities will show you how small changes to your eating and physical activity habits really can help you to feel, look, and live better.”

Photo of a clown painting a child's faceFollowing the walk, attendees were treated to an impromptu stretch session organized by Ms. Richardson and led by local Black women who are fitness professionals. The health fair also included tasty, healthy snacks; prizes such as Sisters Together t-shirts, baseball caps, and pedometers; hand-dancing and vegetarian cooking demonstrations; and face-painting and balloon art for the children. The involvement of local organizations, including the DC Police Department, Mayor Anthony Williams’s Office, the Wizards and Mystics basketball teams, the Anthony Bowen YMCA, and the Kennedy Center, created links to the local community that made the event a success and will be key to future successes.

Exhibitors distributed health materials that addressed how to reduce one’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, prostate cancer, and stroke. Sisters Together also disseminated a series of free publications designed to encourage Black women of all ages to adopt new exercise and eating habits:

  • Celebrate the Beauty of Youth
  • Energize Yourself and Your Family
  • Fit and Fabulous as You Mature
  • Walking… A Step in the Right Direction
Sisters Together logoEach publication offers age-appropriate tips for incorporating physical activity and healthy eating into daily living. Copies are available by calling 1-877-WIN-4627 or by visiting the WIN website at: Ms. Richardson signed autographs, she urged women to use the good feelings and fun that they experienced at the Sisters Together Walk and Health Fair as a springboard for taking better care of themselves tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. “We take care of our children, our mates, and our friends, but we fail to give our health, our well-being the attention it needs and deserves,” said Richardson. NIDDK will continue to spread the Sisters Together message through future activities and publications. s
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