WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Throughout the month of February, Newswatch 16 is continuing to celebrate, spotlight, and shine a light on how people in our area are marking Black History Month.
This year's theme is focused on Black Health and Wellness.
Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey caught up with a group in Williamsport recently. They highlighted how this month really serves as a reminder about the importance of self-care to help improve their overall wellness.
It's not always easy, especially for people with kids, but when you give yourself a little self-care, it can go a long way for everyone.
Here's what that means for Lycoming Tri-County NAACP President Lisa Williams.
She said, "Freedom from stress, freedom from the day-to-day activities that can bog you down."
And Williams adds that this month serves as a reminder for her to make healthier food choices. Dwayne "Dean" Carter is right there with her.
"There's a lot of things that I do in my diet that I never did before. I try to make sure it's not a lot of salt, sugar, and things of that nature," said Carter. "I want to get out to the men. We need to really start picking up on our health, not being afraid of going to the doctors."
That also includes keeping up with routine blood work.
"Black Americans have the highest high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, congestive heart failure," added Williams.
"With the new information, we are living longer, and we are taking charge of our health," said Williams.
In addition to mental and physical wellbeing, Melodie Shaw says first and foremost, it has to be spiritual health.
Faith is what Melodie Shaw says is the foundation of the Black community. It's what helped many African Americans survive slavery hundreds of years ago. And faith is what's keeping Shaw going today after her husband died on Christmas.
"It totally devastated me and our family," said Shaw. "I don't think that I can make it a day without God."
"Without God, nothing is possible," said Carrie Bernard.
Bernard also of Lycoming County credits the power of prayer for bringing more than three thousand together in her online crafting group.
"That was God," said Bernard.
From keeping the faith to keeping it real, there's also an even bigger focus this month on celebrating a more natural look.
"The African American community, that's one thing that we vibe on," added Bernard.
A vibe that Williamsport salon owner Mitzi Baker says has more and more black women saying so long to perms and weaves to celebrate their natural hair.
"That brings out the beauty in black women," said Baker.
And if there's one final thought these five from central Pennsylvania hope other communities can take away from Black History Month, it's a message of unity. One that when people see disparities in healthcare among African Americans, education, or inexcusable treatment by people in positions of power, we say something.
"We need our white allies because we know that change happens when you guys speak up when you guys stand with us. So it's going to take a concerted effort," added Shaw. "It's going to require everybody all hands on deck in order for us to have a seat at the table for us to be included in the discussions that ultimately impact us."
Those you just heard from also say this month is also a time to celebrate one another and the impacts the Black Community continues to make in America, including the first possible African American woman who might be named the supreme court.