wellness forum

The Women's Wellness Forum is Aug. 14 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. It is a chance for women of Rim Country to learn and laugh. There is no admission, but pre-registration is required, call 928-472-2588 or stop by the MHA Foundation, 431 S. Beeline Hwy., Suite #1, Payson.

Embrace your health. "Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account," says renowned author and psychologist Anne Wilson Schaef. Organizers of this year's Women's Wellness Forum maintain that happiness is the highest form of health. The forum's mission is to improve and enhance the health and well being of women in Rim Country. When referring to health, women's physical, emotional, and mental needs are all addressed in a holistic approach to wellness.

This year marks the 22nd annual Women's Wellness Forum. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Ballroom. The theme of this year's forum is "Embrace your Health."

Traditionally, the forum is held in March, but with the onset of COVID-19, the 2020 forum scheduled for last year was canceled. COVID-19 restrictions were still in effect a year later, leading to a March 2021 forum cancellation as well. Forum organizers didn't want to have an additional year without a forum for the community's women, so when restrictions begin to be lifted, plans began to be put into place for August 2021.

The forum's history is long and distinguished, beginning in 1998 with a handful of women philanthropists to bring community awareness to breast cancer. They understood that women were the home caregivers; often too busy taking care of everything and everyone to stop to care for themselves. Brochures, posters, and other promotional materials were created to advertise the event throughout the area. The program aimed to offer mammograms and other services for the uninsured locals who would otherwise go without such vital preventative and diagnostic tools.

The inaugural forum offered up to five free mammograms, and more importantly, doctors visits to follow up on any findings, up to and including surgery if necessary. Three women took advantage of the mammograms, after which, thankfully, no further treatment was required for them.

The event quickly outgrew its humble beginnings. Held initially at St. Phillip’s church and attended by 300 women, parking and logistics were tricky. The following year the forum moved to the high school to offer more space. The high school remained the venue for many years until it again outgrew the space and moved to its current location at the casino. Organizers have appreciated the ample space and parking the current site provides and appreciate that all of the details like food and set up are taken care of, allowing the event staff to concentrate their focus on the forum specifics themselves.

When planning each successive forum, organizers use measures of success such as attendance numbers in relation to previous years and a survey provided by event participants to hone and perfect forums in the future. The goal is to work to assure the forum always stays relevant, informative, and enjoyable for everyone in attendance and that it grows and improves year over year.

This year's forum will host various presenters addressing health topics spanning the gamut of holistic women's health. Slated to speak are Simone Lake discussing "Biblical Health;" organic chemist, Dee McCaffrey covering the benefits of Omega-3s; comedienne, and keynote speaker Diana Jordan bringing attention to the importance of humor for overall wellness. Also slated to speak is local NAMI spokeswoman Patty Wisner, who will talk about the topic of resilience in adversity.

Having attended the forum in the past, Wisner is honored to be presenting this year, describing the event as a day of fun and learning. Her presentation topic, resilience, is a timely one in an era of change and upheaval brought by the international COVID-19 pandemic. She explains a range of responses in a season of crisis that people can have to negative life changes. Despite the circumstances in an individual's surrounding environment, everyone can increase their natural level of resilience, says Wisner. Positively coming through hardships requires having positive coping strategies and a solid support structure in place.

In gratitude, forum organizers recognize their major sponsors, the MHA Foundation, Banner Payson Medical Center, Hospice Compassus, Payson Care Center, Powell Place and Rim Country Health. They are also thankful to the Soroptomists for spearheading the volunteer efforts for the event and the event venue staff at Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.

There is room for up to 240 participants and the 2021 forum and spaces are filling very quickly with pre-registrations.

Pre-registration is required and can be done in person or by mail at the MHA Foundation at 431 S. Beeline Hwy, Suite #1, Payson or call MHA Foundation, 928-472-2588, to register by phone.

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