RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A new program through the American Heart Association aims to make health resources more accessible to women living in and around Riviera Beach.
Quarterly, the Women’s Wellness Market will offer free resources and services all in one location, to streamline the quest for healthier living. Several of the resources will be particularly useful to mothers, according to AHA.
Sheree Wolliston, vice president of community impact for the American Heart Association Palm Beach County, said focusing on hearth health can be life-saving.
“Heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans, but it’s also the number one killer of new moms," she said. "According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for one in four pregnancy-related deaths in the United States. And Black women face triple that risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications.”
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The event will focus on heart health for all women, but it is family-friendly and men and children will also learn healthy habits. There is a special focus on mothers and moms-to-be.
“Pregnancy is really considered nature’s stress test, because all of the different things that your body has to do during that time. And so we want to make sure that when we talk about women and women’s wellness, that’s really ensuring that women are taking care of themselves and their heart health,” Wolliston said. “We know that during pregnancy, women can develop high blood pressure, preeclampsia, which is severe high blood pressure during pregnancy, gestational diabetes can also elevate your risk for stroke.”
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There are symptoms to watch out for before, during and after pregnancy.
“For example, some women who experience preeclampsia may notice headaches, and changes in vision, and abdominal pain, but they may also notice no symptoms," Wolliston said. "So, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re expecting or you have any high risk for these conditions.”
To Wolliston, the effort to share wellness information with other women is personal.
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“I had preeclampsia when I was pregnant, and it ended up with me having a premature birth, premature baby. And thankfully, me and my daughter are fine. She is about to turn 15, but I just remember experiencing a lot of those symptoms and not really knowing what to look out for, and ending up in the hospital after a routine doctor’s visit," she said. "So, I think if going into it I had a little more preparation with the things I know now, I would definitely have had a healthier pregnancy, and we just want that for all moms in our community and for all families in our community.”
The first two markets are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 24 and Sept. 30 at the Riviera Beach Urban Farm at 1621 W. Blue Heron Boulevard.
The June event will include a Zumba class, healthy cooking demonstration, mindfulness practice, and additional information from several vendors, including:
- BRIDGES - Riviera Beach
- City of Riviera Beach
- Community Partners of South Florida
- DNA Total Fitness
- E-Roadmap Corporation
- Florida Department of Health (DOH) - Palm Beach County
- Health Council of Southeast Florida
- Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of Palm Beach County
- Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc.
- The Lupie Girl
- Palm Beach County Youth Services Department
- SAE Holistics
In addition to the market, the AHA has launched a free produce pick-up service at the Riviera Beach Urban Farm, which is part of a FarmRX program. On the second and fourth weekend of every month, they are hosting various events for the community around health and wellness.