By Amy Carlson, NBC 15 News Anchor

THE WISCONSIN WOMEN’S HEALTH Foundation (WWHF) was founded in 1997 by Wisconsin’s former first lady, Sue Ann “Thompson, with this thought in mind: As “Thompson traveled the state following her recovery from breast cancer, she learned that not all women had equal access to health information and care. After hearing some of their stories, she created the foundation to connect Wisconsin women with the resources they need to become advocates for their own health.

Almost 20 years later, the foundation continues to reach women with health information, encourage them to become advocates for their own health and improve the overall quality of life for women and their families, “They are able to reach these goals through several WWHF programs.

“The First Breath program helps pregnant women quit smoking through individual counseling and incentives. “Many women, especially in rural areas, are enmeshed in a smoking culture. It’s difficult to quit when everyone around you smokes,” says Julie Whitehorse, WWHF strategic initiatives director. Healthcare providers are trained statewide to deliver smoking cessation individual counseling Last year, 1,400 women enrolled and 35 percent successfully quit smoking, according to WWHF.

“The Grapevine Project trains faith community/parish nurses to facilitate free sessions on topics including cancer, dementia, domestic violence, heart health, mental health and osteoporosis.

Everywoman’s Journal teaches women proactive health journaling techniques. A workshop guides women to better understand and reconnect with themselves. A special journal from the WWHF prompts examination of memories, thoughts and ideas.

WWHF’s Annual Dialogue is a topical daylong discussion about a particular health concern. Previous subjects include multiple sclerosis, dementia and alcoholism. All programs are free of charge. Funding comes from grants, private donors, corporate sponsors, and proceeds from the annual WWHF Spring Gala.

You can support the WWHF’s efforts at this year’s May 9 fundraising gala on. “The evening starts at the Madison Concourse Hotel then moves into the State Capitol for dining, dancing and celebrating women’s health.

“The gala begins by honoring selected Champions in Women’s Health who have demonstrated exemplary leadership on women’s health in their professional careers. Attendees can also bid on auction items.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to support the statewide programs of the WWHF while enjoying a live band, gorgeous decorations, hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

Women across Wisconsin deserve the same opportunities to reach their healthiest potential. Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation is there to provide the resources. Any women’s group can contact the foundation to request a health seminar.

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