New Life Fellowship Center responds to the call
According to the American Diabetes Association, heart disease and diabetes are two of the four leading causes of death among African American women. The sobering fact is not lost on Charlotte’s New Life Fellowship Center. The church has established a health and wellness ministry to educate and positively impact behavioral change for its members and the community at large.
NLFC is a nondenominational church located in what use to be the Double Oaks community in Charlotte. The pastor is a legendary gospel singer John P. Kee and the center is not your traditional Christian church. Programs like Gifts
for Guns or Night Court, where young men can come at 2:00 a.m. in the morning and play basketball at the center’s inside basketball court, are not your typical church programs.
NLFC is a place where people can come and feel comfortable no matter where they are in their spiritual journey as they offer a variety of ministries that cater to the needs of the community. The health and wellness ministry is similar to many of their programs and services; it is designed to meet people at their point of need.
The need for a program like Healthy Lives and Healthy Futures, developed in partnership with the Cabarrus County Health Alliance is a necessary one because of the high rates of health disparities among African Americans compared to other groups. The initiative addresses an alarming situation of disturbing rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke for African American women, which also continues to gain the attention of national and local statistics.
For African American women the rates of heart disease are twice as high as Caucasian women and one in four African American women 55 years and older are affected by diabetes according to the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the CDC.
Renee Robinson coordinator of the Health and Wellness Ministry at NLFC recognizes the importance of taking care of the entire person; body, mind, and spirit. She says, “We have to take care of the whole person, not just their spiritual being and we have to communicate that to society.”
Healthy Lives and Healthy Futures’ goal is to reduce risk factors for developing diseases like heart disease and diabetes and to prevent more serious complications for participants who have already been diagnosed by educating them on how to eat healthier, monitor their health, and exercise. They meet weekly for the fitness portion of the program and has registered over sixty participants.
NLFC is not passively accepting troubling statistics as something the African American community has to live with; but through their ministry, are making a difference by educating others on how to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Participants in the program are given an initial health assessment to determine what their needs are. One of the components of the health assessment is a physical fitness test. After the health assessment is completed each person is given a personalized exercise prescription and educated on proper nutrition. Participants then apply what they have learned at home by making healthier choices about food and committing to an exercise routine that strengthens their body’s resistance to disease.
Robinson says she wants people to be healthier and feel better. Her mother had her first heart attack at 42 and a second heart attack this past October. She says, “These diseases are like Goliaths and we have to learn how to fight them and what to fight them with.” She then laughs and says, “But Goliath was defeated! We are teaching people behaviors that will either prevent them from having one of these diseases or strengthen their bodies to withstand it.”
Healthy Lives and Healthy Futures empower participants by giving them knowledge they can use to be their own advocates. Some of the women are not only participants in the program but they are also being trained to educate other women as well. The members of the Health and Wellness ministry feel it is a calling.
Robinson says, “We want people to understand that it is a lifestyle change, not a diet so that you can fit into your next bikini, not just somebody to tell you what you can and can’t do; but to understand that you have power to take control of your health and you can live a better life. It doesn’t have to be tedious. It is a decision you must make every day.”
The Health and Wellness Ministry has experienced success in the past and is striving to continue on that same path. The Chris Project is one example of past success, a diabetic study of six participants with diabetes with the purpose of showing the positive impact of educating people diagnosed with diabetes. Participants were taught how to live with diabetes by educating them on nutrition, exercise, and monitoring their glucose levels. “All of the participants with exception of one lost at least ten pounds, balanced their insulin levels, and are living better lives,” says Robinson.
The Health and Wellness ministry at NLFC have taken on the role of Keepers of the body and soul and with the help of health care professionals, researchers and community organizations the fight against diabetes and heart disease can be won. Healthy Lives and Healthy Futures at New Life fellowship Center are committed to this cause. Click on the links below to find out more information about heart disease, diabetes or where you can participate in a Healthy Lives Healthy Futures program.
American Diabetes Association local offices in Charlotte and North Carolina
Healthy Lives and Healthy Futures