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Ideastream Public Media investigates how racism contributes to poor health outcomes in the Cleveland area and uncovers what local institutions are doing to tear down the structural barriers to good health.

Ideastream to host free community event to renew mind, body and spirit

Living My Best Life horizontal graphic

On Saturday, Northeast Ohioans are invited to gather at the Morning Star Baptist Church on Cleveland's East Side for an event designed to inspire physical, spiritual and emotional renewal.

Ideastream Public Media is hosting the community wellness event, dubbed "Living My Best Life." Attendees are invited to shake off stress and tension caused by the pandemic, societal strife, economic uncertainty and the holiday season, according to an event media release.

The event comes after community partners told Ideastream Public Media's engaged journalism team about the effects of stress and anxiety on the mental well-being of Cleveland's communities of color.

Over the past three years, long-simmering tensions over racial injustice sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other incidents of police treatment of Black citizens have created new anxieties and mental health challenges for people of color, according to a study from the University of Alabama.

The event is open to everyone but the programming was specifically designed to address issues that have particularly affected Cleveland's African American community in recent years.

For people affected by racism as a public health crisis, it's easy to be caught up by the negativity and the weight of the issue, said Erika Brown, a network manager in charge of training and special projects at Neighborhood Connections, an organization that provides grants to residents of Cleveland and East Cleveland.

"It is easy to throw up your hands and say, 'I don't know what to do,'" she said. "But with an event like this ... it’s really about ... having some time to talk to other people who look like you. There will be plenty of opportunities to be super serious, but there are also opportunities to line dance, enjoy the food and the music, to move your body, to fill your spirit — just to have your existence affirmed and have what you’re going through affirmed and celebrated."

Brown along with other members of an advisory council helped conceptualize and organize the event.

"Ideastream Public Media ... heard from our community partners that addressing mental health issues in Cleveland’s communities of color could potentially make a difference in people’s lives,” said Marlene Harris-Taylor, director of engaged journalism at Ideastream.

Living My Best Life

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 3

Morning Star Baptist Church

10250 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland

The free event, which begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, will be a holistic community celebration, featuring Cleveland author Jameel Davis and spoken word artists from Cleveland’s Temple of Passions Collective.

Participants will be invited to take part in hands-on activities like stretching led by My Village Yoga and line dancing by fitness instructor Gail Stringer to music by WOVU D.J. COCO-Z.

The event will also address spiritual health — Akron's Project Ujima will lead healing circles and a spiritual leader from Morning Star Baptist Church will discuss the power of prayer and worship.

There will be free food, giveaways and a chance to meet and visit with one's neighbors, the release said.

Ideastream is hosting the community wellness event as part of its Connecting the Dots between Race and Health project funded by The Dr. Donald J. Goodman and Ruth Weber Goodman Philanthropic Fund of The Cleveland Foundation.

Stephanie Czekalinski
Stephanie is the digital producer/editor of Ideastream Public Media’s health team.