Soul Stroll is back!
Soul Stroll has over 40 partners and health providers with information to help people. The post Soul Stroll is back! appeared first on San Francisco Bay View.
by Robbie Jackson
The Bay Area Community Health Advisory Council (BACHAC) is proud to announce that the
annual Soul Stroll finally returns after a nearly four year break! They are back live and in person with a great community event encouraging us to move with a purpose! This year’s theme, Movement Is Resistance, is a call to action for the Black, Latino and Pacific Islander community to take charge and ownership in improving health outcomes for current and future generations to come.
This year the huge event includes a 1/3/5-mile walk and run that generates support and brings awareness to organizations focused on eliminating health disparities in African American, Latino and Pacific Islander communities across generations. The public is urged to join BACHAC in walking or running the course at San Mateo High School, 506 North Delaware in San Mateo.
The Soul Stroll also includes a health fair that fights for health justice in the most tangible way possible, by taking it to the community. I sat down to talk with Executive Director Lisa Tealer to get the inside scoop on the event as well as some other things. Check out this interview before the event on May 20, 2023!
Robbie: Please give me the rundown on who you are, where you are from and how you are
connected to the Soul Stroll?
Lisa: My name is Lisa Tealer; my pronouns are she/her. I have been the executive director of BACHAC for five years. Before that I was the interim ED as a result of my volunteering for over 10 years. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I found out about BACHAC when I went to a breast cancer awareness program and I saw people who looked like me. There was a panel of medical experts discussing breast cancer prevention, research etc, as well as breast cancer survivors in a fashion show. I brought my mom and my aunt, who is a breast cancer survivor, to the program that was informative and uplifting. I’ve been involved ever since and attended my first Soul Stroll event that following year.
Robbie: That’s beautiful. I love that through the love of a loved one you became a part of
something much bigger than yourself. So just for some background knowledge, what started the Soul Stroll?
Lisa: Bay Area Community Health Advisory Council’s (BACHAC) first Soul Stroll was in 2002,
and the purpose was to bring together people of all races to focus on BIPOC community needs
in a fun, relaxing and healthy way and to raise money to help fight against the health disparities in communities of color as awareness of issues was raised. It was born out of necessity. Action needed to be taken. The purpose of Soul Stroll is demonstrated in our current theme “Movement is Resistance.”
Soul Stroll with its 1/3/5 Walk/Run 1) literally gets people moving so that their health is improved through exercise and 2) their action, their movement helps raise money to extend services to those in greater need. To help reinforce the Movement is Resistance theme, we are pleased to say that Feminista Jones is our Soul Stroll ambassador.
As an intersectionality expert, public speaker, community activist and social worker, Feminista’s life is demonstrative of breaking down barriers to access. She is an award-winning writer and the author of the critically acclaimed “Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets.” Her work centers around queer identity, critical race theory, intersectionality, mental health and social work. She also teaches a course on the “African American Queer Experience” at Temple University.
Robbie: It’s nice to see such well educated Black women doing something so beneficial for the community! Got me over here feeling proud! So let’s get into some hot topics. What do you feel are some top health issues that the BIPOC community is facing?
Lisa: One of the top health issues is racism, discrimination and bias. They permeate through
systems that negatively impact the health of BIPOC communities with lack of information,
access and treatment. These factors manifest in mental health, blood pressure and hypertension,
other cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer and decreased life expectancy. In 2020, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors declared “Racism” a Public Health crisis.
Soul Stroll has over 40 partners and health providers with information to help people. The interaction of people of all races who are welcomed to Soul Stroll is a way for all people to get to know each other and provide “movement” to resist racism’s overarching impediment to health. Through experience with each other and the information provided by partners like UCSF, Stanford Cancer Institute, San Mateo County Health, AARP, College of San Mateo Nursing Program and others, everyone leaves Soul Stroll with practical healthy tools to improve life.
Robbie: It’s crazy because most of these issues you are listing aren’t anything new for the Black community. My family definitely deals with a couple of the things you listed. I know you
mentioned some solutions briefly. Could you elaborate on some solutions to fix these issues?
Lisa: All sectors of the community working together on short term needs, while addressing the systemic issues that create health disparities and inequities in our BIPOC and underserved communities is the foundation for solving problems. The unity in community is key. Our team at Bay Area Community Health Advisory Council saw what was possible during the pandemic – CBOs, government agencies, state, county and city reps, faith-based leaders, individual community members and public health and healthcare providers all working together to save lives. Everyone brought the resources, ideas and experience to the table and we coordinated efforts.
We started a collaborative called Umoja Health, founded by Dr. Kim Rhoads in 2021. We have a north county and south county group where we bring all the various sectors of our community together. Learn more at https://www.umojahealth.org/. We have regular boots on the ground meetings that empower communities with life-saving information. Just one example is the community forum with UCSF that I was honored to moderate: https://youtu.be/NYI4MbFs70g
Robbie: Let’s get into the money and where it’s going! The people want to know! Could you tell me about some of the past charities and/or programs that have benefitted from the support generated by the event?
Lisa: Funds raised from these events allow us to offer other programs that are free to the
public. Examples include a program called Off to a Good Start, a community event that
exposes community members to different types of physical movement and nutrition information; BACHAC organizes a yearly Men’s Health Symposium in September, where men can get exams, blood work and get access to various health professionals to discuss mens health issues. As another example, we organize an annual breast cancer program bringing medical professionals and breast cancer survivors to provide the latest information and lived experience.
We also have a community mammogram program that provides free mammograms to
uninsured women in San Mateo county. See more on our website. While on the website I would encourage everyone to invest in our work by donating to our groundbreaking mission.
Robbie: BACHAC is definitely worth investing in! So in this conversation I hear a lot that this
event is looking to accomplish. What is the ultimate goal for the Soul Stroll?
Lisa: To bring the community together in a fun and family friendly way to engage and encourage
a healthy lifestyle by providing a culturally relevant and safe environment to receive information to resources and services to enhance the health of the community and at the same time raise funds for BACHAC’s other programs and outreach efforts to improve the quality of life.
Robbie: I really feel like this is something the whole community can benefit from. So tell me,
how does it feel to be back since the break due to COVID-19?
Lisa: It feels great to be able to host this community health event in-person. We organized a
virtual version of Soul Stroll for three years during the pandemic and it was a challenge to create a community connection online. Yet the resilience of BACHAC’s Soul Stroll Outside continues as real life has its impact.
Weeks before our May 20 event after months of promotion that Soul Stroll would be at Coyote Point, the storms ravaged the park making it too dangerous according to Park Rangers to have the event there. We had to pivot and depend on our community collaborators and we were able to obtain San Mateo High School for Soul Stroll for which we are so thankful. Life happens and we roll with it making it better through education, relaxation, fun, movement and the resilience of joy.
This family and friends event will be jam packed with resources curated to improve health from over 50 community, business and corporate sponsors. You can expect the first Asian woman to be mayor of San Mateo, Mayor Amourence Lee, the first Latina Supervisor of San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Noelia Corzo, as well as many other recognizable names and faces. Come out May 20 and support this great cause.
Robbie Jackson is a student of the San Francisco Bay View’s Community Journalism Class, which is funded by the California State Library.