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Youth attendees (Photo courtesy of Angela M. Coggs)
Youth attendees (Photo courtesy of Angela M. Coggs)

Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation Refuses to Let You Go Silent: 5th Annual Women’s Wellness Conference

By Angela M. Coggs

On Saturday, September 9, Young Women Empowerment Foundation (YWE) hosted their fifth Annual Women’s Wellness Conference at San Bernardino Community Hospital Henderson Auditorium. YWE invited family, friends, faith-based organizations, students and community supporters to their augural event that focused on emotional and physical health and wellness. It was a free event for women in the Inland Empire, although there were several men in attendance.

This year’s theme was Silence No More. It refers to not keeping silent regarding heart disease and domestic violence. Both areas of concern plague all people but especially minority women. The conference placed an emphasis on the prevention of heart disease as well as learning to live with and maintain if diagnosed by a physician. Additionally, domestic violence was addressed in a unique and compelling way.

Vickie Lee, Madeline Freeman and Arlington Rodgers II performed an emotional and riveting skit that centered on a real-to-life situation that happens every day behind closed doors. Lee’s performance brought many of the attendees to tears. It took the engaged audience into a deep and personal look inside a potential volatile situation. “She was so good. It seemed so real,” exclaimed Dr. Romeo Brooks, one of the keynote speaker of the conference. Brooks stated that he was so moved and impressed with the entire performance.

Brooks and YWE Board

Brooks and YWE Board

It was an eventful and interactive conference. The women in attendance had the opportunity to participate in interactive demonstrations and hear life changing testimonials from other women on heart disease and domestic violence. 

Originally, there were three keynote speakers for the wellness conference who focus would be based on issues that are important and relevant to heart disease and domestic violence. The keynote and guest testimonial speakers were Dr. Romeo Brooks, Ph.D. (Keynote) Herbalist, Iridologist, Natural Hygienist and Naturopathic Medicine, Roots Nutrition and Melinda Cuellar, Representative Divine Connections, H.O.P.E.

Gwen and Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes

Gwen and Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes

The other scheduled keynote speaker was supposed to be Joyce Fairman CEO/Founder of Hearts of Color. Regrettable, she passed prior the conference. However, as they continue to mourn the loss of the beloved friend and heart health advocate Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation honored her legacy with her mentee, Deborah Smith, acknowledging her “never stop” attitude and how she continued to encourage to reach her potential and to find her passion. After her noteworthy peek into their personal relationship, YWE introduced Fairman to the captivated audience via slide show and they watched a montage of pictures that revealed her caring and positive spirit. Testimony from her close friend, Sharon Smith- Knight, shown Fairman’s humorous side. Everyone in attendance participated in and observed a moment of silence during Fairman’s original scheduled speaking time. 

Cuellar spoke about domestic violence and how Divine Connections, H.O.P.E.’s mission is to offer guidance, empowerment, education and resources for building healthy relationships. The attendees were introduced to Option House by Deborah Smith, which provides information, resources and services about domestic violence. A question and answer segment was held at the end of the presentations.

Vickie Lee and Dr. Brooks

Vickie Lee and Dr. Brooks

Dr. Brooks discussed how to prevent and live with heart disease. He communicated how the physical body is not only the expressed image of the invisible mind but is also the visible barometer of what occurs in our mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. He connected physical wellness to our mental health. He emphasized that we need to eliminate all the bad things our bodies accumulate.

In addition to providing useful health and wellness information at the conference, the attendees was also invited to get physical during the live line dance demonstrations by Heart and Soul’s Harriette Coggs- Stuckey. The line dance demonstrations has been a huge success for the past three years and this year was no different. Coggs- Stuckey energetic personality match her energetic performance. Everyone participated in the dancing segment and enjoyed the heart pumping activity.

Heart and Soul 2017

Heart and Soul 2017

YWE serves to strengthen the character of young women of high school age in the San Bernardino City region of the Inland Empire in Southern California. Young Women’s Empowerment was founded by CEO Gwendolyn Dowdy- Rodgers. The mission of our program is to empower these young women to achieve at their highest potential, particularly in education, and to instill in them a commitment to return to their community as leaders and mentors.

Vickie Lee and Madeline Freeman

Vickie Lee and Madeline Freeman

The Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation (YWE) is dedicated to strengthening the self-esteem, character, integrity and capacity of young women ages 12-21 so that they may achieve their highest potential. YWE accomplishes its purpose through strategic partnerships with other organizations. YWE is guided by ethics and principles which exhibit respect for cultural diversity.

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