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FOR RELEASE: January 18, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Nationally Known Speaker to Present at Interfaith Health and Wellness Conference

Oklahoma’s first annual Interfaith Health and Wellness Partnership Conference is scheduled March 19-21 at the Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing, 2501 N. Blackwelder in Oklahoma City. The conference will offer a series of free public health workshops focusing on involving the faith community to help solve the problems of health disparities, access to health care, and community coalition building.

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Thurman Evans, M.D., Ph.D., affectionately referred to as “Mr. Inspiration” because of his leadership in the area of health and wellness among the national faith community. Evans is scheduled to speak on March 20 at 10:00 a.m.

Evans is the CEO of Wholelife Associates and Pastor of Morning Star Community tabernacle in Linden, NJ. While Vice-President and Corporate Medical Director of CIGNA, he was a founding member of the Corporate Diversity Committee and conceived, planned, developed and implemented the wellness program now known to be one of the best corporate programs in the nation. Evans has consulted with departments of city, county and state agencies as well as the federal departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. He has published more than 30 articles in various health journals and newspapers.

Evans’ conference speech will emphasize the need to balance health, nutrition, fitness, and spirituality with strong collaborative skills among corporate, faith-based, government, fraternal and educational entities. The theme of the conference, “Faith, Hope and Health,” was chosen to bring encouragement and to empower faith organizations to develop ongoing interfaith programs and outreach activities.

“The challenge of meeting the needs of underserved communities is even more important now during a time of shrinking resources. We have to work together to make every dollar stretch to provide health services to communities. Faith-based and community organizations can help us identify and overcome obstacles that prevent people from getting the health services they need,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie M. Beitsch.

Another featured conference presenter is Edwin B. Hutchins, Ph.D., president of the Healthier People Network Inc. He specializes in health risk assessment for program planning. Hutchins is also an adjunct professor at Emory University School of Public Health in Atlanta, Ga.

Hutchins develops risk assessment and evaluation tools to measure norms for special populations. His workshop will recognize the risk of unhealthy habits leading to early death or chronic illness; describe the health risk assessment tool and how to use it to identify controllable and uncontrollable risk factors; and how to use the tool in faith-based wellness programs and planning activities for members of congregations.

Other workshop topics will include: Building Partnerships With My Faith Community; Faith Sponsored Community Health Fairs; Faith-Based Health and Wellness Programs; Volunteer Training for my Congregation; How to Conduct a Health Assessment; How to Develop Health Ministry Activities; Understanding Holistic Health; Developing Inter-Faith Community Partnerships; Cultural Diversity; Understanding Health Disparities and Health Access; and Identifying Resources on Health Disparity Data.

The Interfaith Health and Wellness Partnership Conference is designed to address some of the health disparities identified by the 2002 State of the State’s Interim 2002 Report, The Haves & Have-Nots, released last year by the Oklahoma State Board of Health. Sponsors of the conference include the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health and the Community Development Service. Planning committee participants represent more than 40 non-profit and religious organizations of various faiths represented throughout the state.

To register for the conference or for more information, contact Tom Nash, Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Community Development Service, 405/271-9444 ext. 56534.

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