Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sister Spokesman Wellness Event, February 7

On February 7, I participated in a Sister Spokesman wellness event at the Summit Academy OIC in Minneapolis. The theme of the event was "From the Heart: Heart Awareness." When I first learned about the event, I thought it was only for women. Wishing to be a vendor, I called the organizers to find out. Upon learning that I would be welcome, I arranged and paid for a table.

I left Northfield early on the event date and arrived at around 11.35am. I entered the venue, at Summit Academy OIC, not knowing what to expect. Most vendors were there, and some were still coming. I completed the set-up of my vendor table, assisted by daughter Assumpta, and soon the program started.

Tracey Williams Dillard, CEO/Publisher of the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder, opened the proceedings and served as the MC throughout. Gentle and seemingly indefatigable, she facilitated the diverse program smoothly to the very end.

There was a panel consisting of Dr. Sue Everson Rose of the University of Minnesota Program in Health Disparities Research; Angela Winston-Herbert, Fitness Expert with Angela's Faith & Fitness; and Anika Robbins, Executive Director of the ANIKA Foundation. They discussed the health challenges facing African American women, including heart disease, stress, and disparities in health care between them and other sections of the population. They covered issues such as food choices and preparation and the importance of adequate sleep, exercise and proper relationships, and the timely diagnosis of health conditions.

Sheronda Orridge, spoken word artist, gave a performance rich in social criticism and wisdom.

As I have suggested, there were quite a few vendors. I was not able to talk with all of them and learn about their services and products. I did, however, talk with Andria Livingston, owner of Silk Reflections, which specializes in custom handmade accessories. She can be reached at allonesound04@gmail.com and on facebook.

Another vendor I was able to talk with, albeit briefly, was Annie's Apparel and Accessories.

Val "I am Zumba" Turner invited people to some zumba dancing which was very vigorous and entertaining. Everybody enjoyed it, not only the people who stepped onto the floor to dance, but we spectators as well. If it were not for the fact that I am still unwell, I would have joyfully participated in the dancing.

One of the indisputable benefits of such events is the networking opportunities they offer. I got to know several people. Here I am seen conversing with Laura, who did a good job of helping people throughout the event.

I also had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Susan Everson-Rose and learned how passionate she was on research on stress and related matters. Although we did not have much time to talk, I remember she talked about psychological dimension of stress, while I talked about the cultural dimensions. It was clear that our interests and perspectives overlap in significant ways.

My daughters Assumpta and Zawadi came to lend me a hand at my vendor table, where we displayed three of my books: Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, Matengo Folktales, and Notes on Achebe's Things Fall Apart. The full list of my books is available from my online bookstore or from me, phone (507) 403-9756, email africonexion@gmail.com

As the program was drawing to a close, Sheronda Orridge stepped up again, to share some more spoken word performance, which delighted the audience.

This was a memorable event, and I am glad my daughters and I attended it. I value my daughters' participation in such events, which enable them to meet people and broaden their perspectives on social and cultural issues. I have three daughters, and they all enjoy participating in these community events together with me.

Summit Academy OIC, the venue for this month's Sister Spokesman event, was excellent, in my opinion, not least because it was easily accessible. The atmosphere of the event was warm and welcoming. At one point, vendors were given the opportunity to talk about themselves, their products and services. When my turn came, I enjoyed introducing myself, talking about my work as an educator, writer and cultural consultant. I salute the Sister Spokesman for organizing events of this nature, which take place every month. You can follow them here and on facebook.

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