A new, ‘creative’ approach to health and wellness for Pittsburgh African Americans


Saturday, April 15 brought together a myriad of folks of all ages, sizes and stages of fitness to the Homewood-Brushton YMCA. They all took part in the first Community Wellness Initiative coordinated by Nedra Williams, founder of “Creative Balance 4 Empowering People—Mind Body and Spirit.”
Williams spent years working in the social services and mental health industries as a therapist.  It was there that she witnessed a serious downward spiral in the quality of life among African Americans. She observed how women were running households by themselves, the infusion of crack cocaine into African American neighborhoods, crime, subsequent incarceration and other negative factors. With those issues taking a toll on people’s bodies and minds, she felt compelled to do something that could mitigate some of the mental and physical damage being done.
In 2015 Williams launched a wellness initiative, based on the “It Takes a Village” premise to begin providing wellness fairs and workshops in underserved communities.
WORKING OUT—Jaijum Massie, 14, and Malik Minard, 18, getting in some reps at the Creative Balance Wellness event at the Homewood YMCA, April 15. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

“My concerns plagued me so much I wanted to wave a magic wand and change it all, but I knew there was no magic wand; we hold the magic within us,” Williams said. “I also could see that I was just one person and if I was to be effective and meet a wide range of needs, and to really impact a larger body of our people, I’d have to broker services from colleagues that are doing work in these areas.”
Thus, Williams’ inaugural event came to be. The daylong event at the Homewood YMCA offered a variety of opportunities for participants to not only learn about, but participate in activities geared to enhance personal fitness. The activities included: Zumba and Belly Dance instruction by Gail Alberto Martin; A one mile walk around the upper track of the Y; a workout boot camp conducted by certified personal trainer, Clay Moorefield; African Dance Movements by Ebony Castaphney; Hip-Hop Aerobics by Jim “Big Weave” Weaver, owner of NAKA Fitness; And Line Dancing by Roland Ford, Pittsburgh’s Line Dance King.


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