Sister Spokesman Heart Awareness: Meet the panelists

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(l-r): Anika Robbins, Angela Winston-Herbert, Sue Everson-Rose and Jennifer Niedzielski

The love of health and wellness across the world is continuously growing. Our community is no exception.

On Saturday, Feb. 7, Sister Spokesman will address a topic for health and better living with a panel discussion entitled, “Heart Awareness for the Mind, Body and Soul.” The panel features four women — Anika Robbins, Angela Winston-Herbert, Sue Everson-Rose and Jennifer Niedzielski — who are knowledgeable about health and wellness issues.

Robbins is the executive director of The Anika Foundation, an emerging nonprofit that addresses health equity issues, global leadership development and education. The project, in partnership with the University of Minnesota, is called “From the Heart,” and is a “total mindful, wellness intervention program that introduces healthy living concepts into the African American Community,” stated Robbins. “Healthy living is not just a White thing. Being healthy does not make you bougie, and you can quote me on that,” said Robbins, adding,“We plan to break down healthy living for real.” Robbins and the panel will touch on emotional eating as well.

Winston-Herbert, who proclaims herself to be a woman, mom, wife, coach, motivator, trainer, shopper, and chef, is a product of the product. She said she “helps people believe in themselves,” and trust that all things are possible by first getting their mind right. “So many people think you are supposed to just know it, but we do not,” said Winston-Herbert. “I teach them to take baby steps, and do not get discouraged when life happens because it’s a journey and we always have tomorrow.”

Winston-Herbert holds classes at Pilgrim Lutheran Church every Saturday, and at Breck School when the weather permits. She also holds online challenge groups, personal training in her home, and fitness plans. At this event she plans to do a fitness warm-up and will be sitting on the panel talking with attendees about living a healthy lifestyle. She wants people to take away from the event an urgency to take care of their health and to believe “Yes I Can!”

Rounding out the panel is Everson-Rose, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota, associate director of the program in Health Disparities Research, and the director of research core for the Center for Health Equity.

Everson-Rose said she does research “on how stress and psychosocial factors, as well as other social determinants, relate to risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.” She has done many studies that focus on women’s health.  She also actively studies health disparities.

Everson-Rose does this work because, as she put it, “Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death and disability in our country and worldwide. I want my research to have public health relevance and to be meaningful to individuals and communities.  Many of the risk factors…are related to lifestyles and behaviors,” she said. Everson-Rose hopes participants will get useful information about the links between stress and heart health, and innovative ways we hope to mitigate those health risks.

Also on the panel is Jennifer Niedzielski. Niedzielski is a mindfulness professor for the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. She teaches a course on meditation and stress reduction. She also serves as a part-time faculty member at Augsburg College where she teaches other teachers how to teach reading. As if she’s not busy enough, Niedzielski is also a certified yoga instructor, and a mother of a seven-year old and twin six-year olds.

Niedzielski would like to lead a panel discussion on the connection between stress and disease. She wants to work with event-goers on “mindful mothering” as she puts it; and being in the moment and mothering in the moment.

“When you are effectively dealing with your stresses, cultivating your passions, and learning what feels good, you are able to emanate a great sense of peace and calm and others feel it.” She said the healing powers of meditation so much that she writes it in her planner to meditate daily at 1 pm. “I want people to leave the event having this sense of control and not feel guilty about setting time aside for self,” said Niedzielski.