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Local Health Experts Explore Role of Faith Communities in Well-Being at Day-Long Conference

What are the connections between mind, body, spirit and community in achieving good health? Why is resilience the cornerstone for well-being? How can we grow in mind, body and spirit after trauma? These are just a few of the topics that will be addressed as Interfaith Community Services (ICS) presents “Faith Communities and Well-Being: Mind, Body, Spirit and Community,” a day-long conference from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 8 at Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene, 500 W. Calle Concordia, Oro Valley, AZ 85704.

The conference, made possible by The David and Lura Lovell Foundation with support from Cenpatico Integrated Care and Community Partners, Inc., will bring together a wide range of local and regional health and faith experts who will guide attendees to better understand personal health and the benefits of balancing physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of well-being.

Registration includes lunch, snacks and materials and is $45.00 per person or $35.00 each for teams of two or more. Register at www.icstucson.org or by calling 520-297-6049 ext. 233. Walk-ins are accepted as space permits at $50.00 per person.

“What we hope to do with this conference is to reinforce that we are complex human beings,” says Veda Kowalski, ICS Health and Senior Services Director and event organizer. “In that complexity, it’s helpful to realize that our health is made up of many pieces of a puzzle that makes each of us unique, and it is important to be aware of how all of these pieces fit together for our best health.”

The conference features two keynote speakers, Dr. Esther Sternberg and Dr. Anne Borik, who will offer information and inspiration weaving both scientific and alternative perspectives. Dr. Sternberg, internationally recognized for her studies on the effects of the brain’s stress response on health and the science of the mind-body interaction, will address healing spaces and the science behind how place and space around us can trigger emotions that help us heal. She is professor of medicine and research director for the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, founding director of the UA Institute on Place and Wellbeing and author of two books, The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions and Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Wellbeing.

Dr. Borik will present on the art of moving prayer. She has combined her medical expertise as an Internal Medicine physician with years of fitness experience as an exercise physiologist to develop an innovative program known as Sign Chi Do, which incorporates sign gesture with movement, music and breath. Originally designed for stroke recovery, the technique works to strengthen the brain and body connection and has been used by faith communities and medical groups around the world. In addition, Borik is a volunteer Eucharistic Minister at her church, Medical Director and Founder of the Gilbert Hospital Wellness Program and author of Prayer Prescribed: A Path to Restoring and Preserving Your Well-Being.”

As a special highlight of the day, Lovell Foundation board member and former ICS CEO Bonnie Kampa will also honor volunteers serving in the new ICS Care Partners Program, a pilot project with Banner University Medical Center. The project provides non-medical assistance to seriously ill patients transitioning from hospital to home, helping them heal while avoiding unnecessary emergency room re-admissions. The award will spotlight the health impact of volunteering for both the giver and the receiver.

Rounding out the program, local and regional professionals representing diverse backgrounds in healthcare, counseling, community and public health and faith will lead breakout sessions on a range of topics including resilience, managing stress, keys to happiness, suicide awareness, end-of-life care issues, recovering from trauma, achieving wholeness and the role faith communities play in being places of both spiritual and physical healing. Visit www.icstucson.org to download a conference brochure for complete details on workshops and speakers.


Interfaith Community Services (ICS) was selected by The Lovell Foundation to organize the conference based on its history in bringing diverse faith communities and community groups together, as well as its leadership role as an advocate and service provider for all ages with varying social, economic and health needs. ICS provides an umbrella of integrated services that help seniors, disabled adults and individuals and families in financial crisis achieve stable, healthy and independent lives. Programs include health education and awareness, such as Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health Safe Space and end-of-life care workshops; caregiving and senior services including transportation, friendly phoning and visiting, mobile meals and health advocacy; emergency assistance including help with rent and utilities, The ICS Food Bank, and aid for work-related needs; and self-sufficiency programs encompassing case management, job search assistance and financial literacy. ICS offers compassionate support by connecting 750 volunteers and 89 faith community partners with our community’s most vulnerable residents. From nutritious food to health evaluations to a ride to the doctor’s office, ICS provides help and hope to more than 37,000 people a year.