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    Pictured from left are Phyllis Clark, founder of the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference; San Bernardino County Supervisor, Fifth District Josie Gonzales and Lisha Smith, field representative for Gonzales. Gonzales was one of several elected officials who attended the conference and presented certificates of recognition to Clark and the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference.

    (RIVERSIDE, Calif.) The fourth annual Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference (www.healthyheritagemovement.com) has set the date of the 2008 conference for July 26 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at California Baptist University in Riverside. “This conference is dedicated to improving the overall health and well being of the African American community,” said Phyllis Clark, conference founder and president.

    “Many of the diseases that African Americans suffer from are lifestyle related,” Clark said. “If we change our behavior, and change the behavior of the next generation, we can prevent many of these life-shortening health problems. The goal of this conference is to provide African Americans with the tools to make better lifestyles choices.”

    A 2005 study of African Americans in San Bernardino County, completed by the African American Health Initiative (AAHI) led by Dr. V. Diane Woods, reported that African Americans in San Bernardino County die 13 years younger than Whites. Many due to lifestyle-preventable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer.

    As a member of the AAHI team and surviving daughter of a mother lost to colon cancer, Clark’s experience led her to commit herself to help Black people live longer.

    “The Healthy Heritage Conference focuses on the major health and wellness issues in the African American community such as cancer, heart disease and organ failure,” Clark said. The conference also addresses emotional health issues which are often not discussed in the Black community.

    “Mental health advocates are finding there are many emotional health issues in the African American home such as alcohol, drug abuse and depression,” Clark said.

    The 2008 conference will offer seminars from the nation’s leading healthcare professionals, together with free screenings for HIV/AIDS, prostate cancer and blood sugar levels, Clark added.

    The 2007 conference featured presentations from nationally renowned healthcare professionals specializing in minority health issues. The keynote speaker was psychologist Dr. Kimlin Ashing-Giwa, director of City of Hope’s Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education.

    The 2008 Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference Committee started planning for 2008 last August. The committee includes staff members from Riverside County Public Health Department, the American Cancer Society, the Southern California Witness Project, Inland Agency, Clark Marketing Group, Dameron Communications and many volunteers.

    Sponsors for the 2007 conference were First 5 San Bernardino, Abbott Labs, Riverside Community Health Foundation, Novartis, Blood Bank of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and Kaiser Permanente.

    “Although the information is targeted at the African American community, the conference is open to all nationalities,” Clark said.

    San Bernardino County 5th District Supervisor Josie Gonzales attended the 2007 conference to gather information for her constituents. Gonzales was one of several elected officials who presented certificates of recognition to Clark at the conference. Clark was also recognized by U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, State Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter, Riverside Mayor Ronald Loveridge and the Rialto City Council.

    As a Supervisor, Gonzales sees the financial effects of mid- to low-income families who do not go to the doctor regularly. Many of these families make frequent trips to the emergency room, which is a huge strain on the government, Gonzales said.

    “Many of our residents don’t make the commitment to practice health prevention,” Gonzales said. “This transfers into huge costs for the county.”

    She said the conference offered area residents a chance to learn about ways to prevent serious health problems and about different health insurance options.

    Gonzales added that it was important that Inland Empire residents monitor their health and pay attention to potential health problems.

    “When we’re young we think we are never going to get sick,” Gonzales said. “As years pass it may not seem that our health is deteriorating, but there are signs, and we must train ourselves to recognize the symptoms leading to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.”

    Failure to plan for future health problems can have a disastrous effect on personal finances. “One third of all bankruptcies are because of health care costs,” she said.

    To join the planning committee, or become a volunteer, sponsor, presenter or vendor for the 2008 Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference call (951) 565-4431 or e-mail hhwcmovement@yahoo.com .

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