By Modou Nyang. Daniel Barber presents award to Simmons.

Celebrity brings public health message to Melrose’s Classic Center

By Modou Nyang. Jackson Houses tenant representative Daniel Barber presents Share for Life executive director and founder Janine Saulsbury with a certificate of recognition.

Loving oneself is the key to a successful and healthy life. That was the message reality TV star Angela Simmons brought to women and girls at a motivational event at the Classic Center in Melrose on July 6.

The event brought together residents of the Melrose and Jackson Houses, who heard Simmons take questions from host Selena Hill. The afternoon also included a session on the importance of exercise and healthy eating habits, as well as a panel discussion on developing health and wellness goals for the participants.

Simmons advised her audience to invest more time developing themselves to achieve their goals rather than spending too much time on their phones interacting through social media. “Love yourself where you are right now and work on bettering yourself,” she said.

Simmons also advised the gathering not to hesitate to seek professional help when needed, and not rely strictly on friends whose advice could inadevertently compound their troubles.

“See a therapist. Find someone who can help you deal with your situations,” said Simmons, adding that everyone can benefit from therapy. Young women and girls should not shy away from seeking help to deal with certain situations, she advised. “You are not talking to a wall. You are talking to someone who can help you.”

Albertha Cobb, a foster mother of four and longtime resident of the Melrose Houses, said learned one crucial message from the guest speaker: that therapy is covered under health insurance plans. She said the message is so important that she planned to spread the word now among the people she knows. Cobb said that over the course of her life she had fostered 102 children, and every one of them could have benefited from therapy.

“There are people in the community that need it, but they think they had to pay,” she said. 

Regina Jackson, a psychologist and vendor for staff at an HSBC bank branch, said Simmons’ inspirational talk would likely resonate with the young people in attendance because youth look up to celebrities.

“A celebrity talking about how she experienced her challenges and how she was able to overcome them is very important,” said Jackson. Mental health problems are frowned upon in minority communities like Melrose, she added, and it is important for residents of the community to know that they are not alone.

The program was organized by Share for Life Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with young people in poor and marginalized community in New York City. Janine Saulsbury, founder and executive director of Share for Life, was awarded a certificate of recognition by City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. Daniel Barber, president of Jackson Houses tenant association, delivered the award.

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