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User Spotlight: Antoinette Ayers, VCU Massey Cancer Center


Get to know Antoinette Ayers, Community Health Educator, VCU Massey Cancer Center.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

As a community health educator with VCU Massey Cancer Center, I have the opportunity to work with a variety of people from many backgrounds to address health and wellness issues in Petersburg and surrounding areas. The projects I work with allow me to utilize my professional background in coaching, team building, marketing, and healthcare.

My primary role is to develop and introduce programs that educate, support, and empower the community in areas of early detection, prevention, and the value of clinical research in finding cures for cancer. 

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It’s incredibly rewarding to work directly with the local community to learn about their interests and needs. It’s even more inspiring to turn ideas into tangible programs by working together to create solutions that truly service the community. Working with community members to identify their interests and needs related to information and wellness. 

Q: Tell us about your biggest accomplishments.

I am most proud of three teams created in the community to support health goals. I am honored to have been part of each of these from inception to the active community services they provide today. Each of these programs offers a new way to address health issues in Petersburg:

  1. The Petersburg Wellness Consortium – envisioning Petersburg living in excellent health and wellness, we work together to create and optimize partnership as well as identify and share resources to improve Petersburg health and wellness. 
  2. The Petersburg Public Library Healthy Living and Learning Center – supporting organizations and community members by providing accurate and reliable health information from the most up-to-date listings. 
  3. Pink Challengers – a breast cancer social support group open to survivors and caregivers that offer monthly gatherings including fun physical activities, social support events, and educational trainings. 

What may be most surprising for many is that each of these programs evolved from research initiated at VCU. Most people believe research is “laboratory based”. However, there is also community engaged research which includes gathering input and ideas directory from community members.

Q: What’s coming next that has you excited?

The Petersburg Wellness Consortium (PWC) has launched the Million Mile Challenge and is looking forward to our rally at the City of Petersburg’s Health & Wellness Day on Saturday, April 19, 2014. 

Join the Million Mile Challenge! Try having a walking meeting! It’s a healthy way to get out with your neighbors and colleagues to support the community effort to better health and wellness. Visit Pathways or the Petersburg Public Library to learn more.

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