Linda Clemons (170310)

The So Cal Women’s Health Conference celebrated it’s 15th year with their annual event that attracted more than 1,500 people. The expo, which was held at the Pasadena Civic Center and hosted by the Community Women Vital Voices, featured workshops designed to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“Our goal is to empower women and men to live a much healthier life,” said Monique Stennis. “It’s a day in which people are exposed to health experts, and finding out what they can do to improve their risk to [fight] illness and diseases. It’s all about empowerment and education. We all have to be advocates of our own health, and to be advocates to our own health we must first be educated.”

The Community Women Vital Voices started in 1996 as a direct result of bringing women together to focus on issues that impact our various communities. With a focus on policy, arts, health and women–the organization offers a quarterly speaker series featuring health experts.

“This conference empowers women to take control of their bodies and their health,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who was the keynote speaker.

Waters told the crowd that women’s healthcare has come a long way in recent decades.

“A half century ago, this conference would not have happened,” she said. That’s because of the reality of facts like women needing their husband’s permission to get their tubes-tied, Waters recalled.

Women packed more than a dozen workshops including sessions on the best new anti-aging technology, reducing the risk of heart disease, sex after menopause and the health dangers associated with poor dental care.

One new, and very interesting addition to the conference was the Man Cave, which was a space for men to come together and discuss their health needs.

“Men were able to feel free to let their hair down and have open discussions about things that are maybe difficult to discuss,” said Leonardo Cablayan, Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi, Pasadena Alumni Chapter. “Men in general, and African American men specifically, in our assessment, keep those type of issues close to the vest. We don’t visit the doctors as much as we need to. We don’t pay attention to some of the tell-tell signs that might lead to more serious types of illnesses. We tend to tough it out, and we don’t share some of our concerns with too many folks.”

The mancave, which was hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi and Gamma Zeta Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi fraternities, and featured a flat screen television with sports games on, as well as dominoes, card tournaments, and a putting green. The partnering organizations prepared for 100 men, and were pleased when more than 200 men showed up for a day of relaxation while attending health workshops.

“Oddly enough, we had women who wanted to poke their heads in to see what was going on, because it was a unique thing,” Cablayan said. “They wanted to see what we had going on in there.”

For people unable to attend, visit www.socalhealthconference.com for health information. The organization also holds monthly meetings at the Jackie Robinson Center in Pasadena on the last Friday of every month. The meetings feature guest speakers who discuss various health topics. For more information, contact Lena Kennedy at (626) 765-6206.