Phillips Leads Local Women’s Health Conference

By Mike Lydick

GAWAM — Women can often feel overwhelmed and burned out because of all the responsibilities they take on at home and at work. An upcoming women’s health conference will offer strategies to help women “reset and refresh” so they can take control of their mental health, reduce stress, find a balance in their lives, and become more empowered to achieve their goals.

Dr. Simone Phillips, a licensed psychologist and mental health counselor with a private practice in East Longmeadow, and a school psychologist for Agawam schools for 15 years, is organizing the Oct. 1 conference. She’s also the founder and CEO of Beautiful! Bold! Brave!, a women’s health and wellness advocacy network.

She frequently collaborates with her network of professional women though interactions on her Facebook group, on her website, and at her annual conference.

The psychologist’s first women’s conference was conducted online last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but this year’s event will be in-person at the Castle of Knights in Chicopee. Phillips said the conference will bring together women of all ages, from 18 to 99, for day dedicated to self-care and self-improvement.

The theme of the 2022 conference is “The Best Version of Me.”

“We will provide attendees with health awareness, education, information, resources, and on-site health screenings that will empower them to create a life they love,” said Phillips.

She created the Beautiful! Bold! Brave! advocacy network to provide women tools and resources they can use to improve their health and overall wellness through better self-care and healthy living.

“Teachers, clinicians, parents are all — or mostly — women who also have husbands, children and other responsibilities outside of their homes that cause them a lot of stress,” explained Phillips. “Very often they forget the importance of ‘stopping to refuel,’ which can lead to burnout.”

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Phillips said all too often she sees the effects of stress and its impact on her colleagues, as well as parents. “We’re all waiting [and] anticipating the next ‘school vacation’ so we can wind down.”

The idea of “teaching women how to stop and take better care of themselves” led to Phillips to create Beautiful! Bold! Brave!

“It was important for me to be a role model of practicing healthy living and ensuring that I was taking good care of myself. I began posting about my daily runs and the healthy things that I ate. Eventually, I created [Beautiful! Bold! Brave!] as a platform to share all these healthy practices so women knew they didn’t have to do it alone.”

Phillips said there will always be a need for this type of conference because women are pulled in so many directions and are constantly responding to the demands of others.

“When we’re working full-time, running businesses and taking care of our families, we don’t stop and think about the toll these demands of life take on us — we end up getting burned out.”

She said that the “unfortunate reality” is that many women don’t know what self-care really means.

“Our ultimate goal is to ensure they have some strategies to use when they become overwhelmed and need to take a break away from their busy lives.”

The Saturday conference, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 1, costs $35 per person or $60 for two persons; lunch is included. Clinicians and therapists who attend can earn continuing education credits.

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Advance registration can be made at www.beautifulboldbrave.com/bbbconference. However, Phillips said there is no registration deadline — attendees can purchase tickets at the door on the day of the event; “We want to make it easy for women who may have to make last-minute decisions to attend.”

Phillips said women will leave the event with a “breadth of knowledge” about their own health and wellness. The goal is for women to walk away with tangible tips to “create a life they love” and feel empowered in their journeys.

“They also will leave feeling confident they can conquer their biggest goals, despite life’s circumstances. I’m also trying to make the achievement of ‘optimal health’ make sense to them without them having to spend thousands of dollars to get there.”

The keynote speaker will be Cindy Kennedy, a nurse practitioner and founder of Pursue Wellness Health Center in East Longmeadow, who has more than 20 years of experience in women’s health. She also will lead a workshop, “Finding Your Authentic Self,” to help women to realize who they are and who they want to become.

In addition to Kennedy and Phillips, other speakers at the conference will include Kathy Picard, a sexual abuse survivor, coach and advocate; Michele Lyman, a yoga teacher; Candice Berube, publisher of “City Lifestyle” magazines in Westfield and Northampton; Pamela Vatrano, who helps women tap into their spiritual essence; Stacey Duquette, a licensed massage therapist and yoga teacher.

Participants will have the opportunity to take part in seven 60-minute workshop and breakout sessions They will focus on helping participants realize their own inner strengths and use them to develop better relationships with themselves, while becoming better versions of who they are.

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A number of interactive activities designed to “recharge their bodies and souls” also will be available. These sessions include blood pressure screenings, vitamin therapy boosters, functional movement assessments, creative expression through art, and more.

A representative from Baystate Medical Center will be on hand to introduce a women’s health and wellness newsletter and website, “Baystate Every Woman,” that offers free and discounted educational seminars on women’s health. A variety of vendors that offer services and products aimed at women will also be at the conference.

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