As part of an ongoing effort to bring new concepts of health and wellness into a community-wide conversation, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies and BB&R Consulting welcomed top wellness experts and nationally renowned health authorities to the Georgetown campus for the 2011 Achieving Optimal Health Conference. Over 600 attendees gathered in Gaston Hall on Saturday, September 17, to engage in a discussion on innovative ideas in integrated health.
“The purpose of today is to become educated, inspired, and motivated, so that by the end, we will all have learned how to nourish ourselves and can go and teach our families and communities how to do the same,” said Tricia Reilly, who founded BB&R consulting with partners Doro Bush Koch and Therese Burch. BB&R offers wellness counseling and holds seminars, workshops, and conferences on the importance of living a healthy, “whole” life. In his opening remarks, Robert L. Manuel, Ph.D., associate provost and dean, School of Continuing Studies, said that BB&R’s mission was a fitting match for Georgetown’s Jesuit ideals. “When you hear the passion, intellect, and empiricism that comes out of the speakers and our hosts, BB&R Consulting, you’re going to understand that what they’re trying to accomplish and what we’re trying accomplish have actually no daylight between them.”
Joining Dean Manuel and the founders of BB&R was an impressive line-up of health and wellness innovators from across the country. Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and CEO of Canyon Ranch’s Health division, set the tone for the conference, discussing the current plight of the health system and a need for greater wellness literacy and diplomacy. “There is a path forward— we have to deal with this, because we can’t afford not to,” he said. “Not only is it national, but it’s global. We’re all inextricably linked to one another as it relates to tobacco, obesity, and chronic illnesses.” Two nutritional powerhouses— Johnny Bowden and Dr. Michael Roizen— followed, dispelling diet myths and highlighting progressive programs being implemented to fight preventable illnesses. Denise Austin led attendees in a quick, five-minute stretch, and yoga expert Beryl Bender Birch continued the momentum during a lunch-break yoga session on the lawn. Attendees sampled vegan burritos, hummus, dark chocolate, and coconut water between sessions.
The conversation continued with a presentation on non-medicinal treatment of mood disorders, anxiety, and ADHD by Dr. Robert J. Hedaya, founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. Birch, who is also a best-selling author, discussed the health benefits attained through movement, breathing, and meditation. In the final session, Dr. Bernie Seigel, one of the founders of the Patient Empowerment Movement, shared his groundbreaking research on spirituality and healing.
“After listening to so many positive, healthful messages, I see an essential need for a paradigm shift,” said Lisa Ghezzi, a Georgetown alum from Easton, MD, in town for the event. “I think this conference has helped raise people’s awareness, and will inspire attendees to make a difference by taking back what they’ve learned to their families, their friends, and their social groups.”
For more than 50 years, the School of Continuing Studies has fostered intellectual growth within the community by providing educational opportunities that encourage life-long learning. For information on upcoming programs, please visit the calendar on the SCS Web site.