Friday, August 3, 2012

On The Road to Family Reunion…and Good Health

No one cares about you like your family does, which is why I have always admired the tradition of family reunions celebrated by many African American families. Each summer many families will pile into cars, jump on board trains or get on an airplane and travel hundreds of miles for their annual family reunion.

In the African-American community, family reunions are more than just a tradition. Through months of planning for a weekend to include story-telling, sports (and sometimes talent) competitions, outdoors fun and lots of good food, reunions have contributed to the endurance of the African-American family unit, even in uncertain and turbulent times. They continue to serve their original purpose, but have evolved to also become effective ways to encourage lifestyle changes critical to African-Americans. In 2005, the National Institutes of Health urged African-Americans to use family reunions as venues for discussions about diabetes and kidney disease, which disproportionately affect this population.

Through its “Generations of Wellness” program, UnitedHealthcare is looking for the stories of families who have taken good health to heart. By sharing examples of how they’ve improved their own or their family’s health, they become eligible for a chance to win $5,000 towards the cost of their next family reunion.

Do you have a good-news story about how your family health has improved? Whether it’s how you all got moving and in better shape, replaced your soul food favorites with heart healthy variations or prevented a critical illness like diabetes, submit your entry to the “Generations of Wellness” initiative now through August 24 at Be sure to bookmark the site so you can go back and vote from Sept. 3 to Sept. 15.

In my work, I often have the pleasure of hearing how people have started new chapters in their lives by making positive lifestyle changes. I love stories with happy endings, don’t you?

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