No flyers or postcards were sent. No Facebook event was created. And yet, 140 women came together on Mother’s Day to learn about heart health and wellness, self-empowerment, family, career and more. The inspirational event, called Follow Your Heart, took place at the Vista Partnership in southwest Detroit.
Follow Your Heart was organized by the American Heart Association, as part of its Go Red Por Tu Corazón (Go Red for Women) initiative, in collaboration with Southwest Solutions/Vista Partnership, AARP, Beaumont Health and Matrix Human Services. The whole event was in Spanish with English interpretation.
The event began with the “calling of the four directions” by the Elder of the Mexika traditions, Grandmother Celia Booth-Elder, and the group Huehueyolotl which means the Heart of the Drum. Huehueyolotl is a Mexika women’s ceremonial drum group based in Detroit. It mission is to recover, preserve and protect sacred ancestral songs from a variety of Native American traditions with a special emphasis on songs in the Nahuatl language.
“I loved the opening ceremony, never had seen it, it’s beautiful to thank God no matter the language,” said attendee Estela Bustamantes. “What is important is having a grateful heart!”
Follow Your Heart continued with a panel by four women who shared their knowledge, wisdom and personal experiences about self-care. Dr. Marisela Castillo MacKenzie, Zumba instructor Leticia De La Torre, Psychologist Florys Gonzalez-Meridith, and Councilwoman of District 6 Raquel Castañeda López spoke about how everything is connected and how lacking care in the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual aspect affects a person’s overall wellbeing. Mayté Penman emceed.
The night was full of laughter, selfies, camaraderie and sisterhood, while learning the serious facts about heart disease:
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Latinas.
- On average, Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non- Hispanic white women.
- Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women is aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.
- More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined.
“The words of the doctor about the different symptoms of a heart attack between a woman and a man really struck me,” said attendee Natalia Zamudio Plata. “To think that we women can die while we sleep or we just feel so tired!”
Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about services provided by the sponsors AARP Michigan and Beaumont Health, as well as the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit, Matrix Head Start, La Vida/CHASS Clinic, and Southwest Solutions various programs in Head Start, homeownership, job training, psychological counseling, and more. The American Heart Association provided hands-on CPR training.
“What I really liked about the event is that it focused on women and the important role they play at home, work, and our community,” said Yuliana Morales.