Andrew Sykes
Wellness expert Andrew Sykes speaks about community-based health initiatives during the inaugural Urban Wellness Summit Sept. 24 at the Maplewood YMCA.

Rochester’s inaugural Urban Wellness Summit on Sept. 24 at the Maplewood YMCA was a jam-packed morning that featured an international speaker, community leaders and neighborhood champions, videos and local wellness success stories. The Summit aimed to inspire Rochester’s neighborhood wellness leaders to make their neighborhoods healthier.

The event offered a chance to network, celebrate and highlight successes and accelerate local efforts to address community health. Participants learned from the experiences of five neighborhood programs: Conkey Cruisers, YMCA/Lifespan/United Way, Rochester Walks, Foodlink and Project HOPE.

The Summit featured a keynote address from international wellness expert Andrew Sykes, who talked about the tools needed to design effective community-based health initiatives. Chairman of Health at Work, Sykes has studied and spoken around the world about wellness and the science of behavior change and engagement.

Sykes is a health actuary who has worked with community groups, public schools and some of the world’s largest companies on wellness and consumer-directed health care plans, including WAWA Inc., Shell Oil, McDonald’s, Nokia, Unilever, BHP Billiton and SAB Miller. Sykes was the chief wellness officer for The Vitality Group before founding Health At Work.

Theresa Bowick
Theresa Bowick inspired neighborhood activists with her story about changing the image of physical fitness in her neighborhood using a fun and inclusive bicycling program.

The panel of speakers at the event included Lovely Warren, Rochester mayor; Robert Duffy, Rochester Business Alliance president and CEO; Paul Speranza, general counsel and secretary for Wegmans Food Markets; Theresa Lou Bowick, founder of Conkey Cruisers; Ann Marie Cook, president and CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester; Julia Tedesco, co-executive director and chief development officer of Foodlink; and Alexis Arnold, 13WHAM News anchor and reporter, who emceed the event.

The Summit was a project of the High Blood Pressure Collaborative of the Rochester Business Alliance and the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency. The event also included the support of the City of Rochester and leaders of wellness initiatives throughout the region.

View the Summit's video showcasing the Conkey Cruisers, Foodlink, the Lily Cafe, Project Hope and Rochester Walks.