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Women from around the area gathered on Saturday for the 15th annual Women’s Health Symposium at Pearl River Community College. The overall focus was education in the areas of personal health and fitness with this year’s presentation covering mental health.

The event, which was split into two sessions, was made possible through the generosity of Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, Gold Sponsor; Aladdin Campus

Dining, Hancock Whitney, Highland Community Hospital, Mississippi Power, and Pearl River County Hospital & Nursing Home, Silver Sponsors; and BankPlus, First National Bank of Picayune, Southern Bone & Joint Specialists, PA, and Walmart Supercenter of Picayune, Bronze Sponsors.

The sessions began with a welcome by Dr. Jennifer Seal, chair of the Women’s Health Symposium Steering Committee, before the general session began.

“We are so grateful to be able to convene for the 15th annual Pearl River Community College Women’s Health Symposium (WHS),” said Seal. “The WHS Steering committee used a creative approach to allow for both participants and distancing throughout the event. It was satisfying to see the smiles on the faces of the participants and the vendors alike. The support and vision of our sponsors allowed for a spectacular, healthy, educational event.”

Dr. Bev Smallwood, psychologist and founder of The Hope Center in Hattiesburg, was the general session speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover and live their life purpose. This includes retreats and other growth experiences that have gone online in the last few years.

Her topic was “The World’s Gone Crazy, but You Don’t Have to,” which is also the title of her next book. She shared four secrets to staying sane: choose to choose, concentrate on the cans, mind your mindset, and live your purpose on purpose.

“Life just doesn’t go smoothly,” said Smallwood. “The good news is that you always have a choice. Do what you can with all you have where you are right now.”

Between the presentation and meal, attendees were able to peruse handmade items at the Art Walk, access health screenings, and visit vendors for more information on ways to live healthier.

Many of the women donated towards the Dr. Becky Askey Scholarship for Medical Students with the purchase of raffle tickets for three designer handbags.

The funds raised were enough to provide two scholarships for females entering a healthcare field.

The health screenings included blood cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, dental, glucose screening, posture analysis, skin screening, stress management, vision, and more. Additionally, participants had the opportunity to receive a short chair massage from the massage therapy students or have their nails done by the cosmetology students.

Entertainment was provided during the meal by Ms. Janie Walters, CEO of Champion Communications. Her theme was “Be Joyful with Janie” and included inspirational stories with a good dose of humor throughout.

Walters also assisted Seal in drawing for each session’s grand prize winners. Smaller door prizes were listed in advance for attendees to claim during their session. And all the women left with two gifts: a single pearl on a silver chain and a small clutch purse.

Many of the women in attendance have been coming to the symposium since it began and look forward to it each year. One table had multiple generations of women enjoying the day. Poplarville resident Keisha Bazor was joined by grandmother, Mary Crouch, as well as her sister-in-law Jessica Bazor.

The women have been coming for at least the last decade of symposia. They go beyond just recommending it to others by bringing a guest with them to experience the day.

“We always enjoy the food, fellowship, health discussions, health screenings, freebies, and door prizes along with complimentary gifts,” said Bazor. “We missed the health discussions this year, but Mrs. Janie Walters was the highlight of the day as she always makes us laugh.”

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