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The Religious Affiliation of Philadelphia Mayor
From: Adventist News Network (ANN), "Adventist Health Leader to be Philadelphia's 'Health Czar'", 8 February 2000, on Worldwide Faith News archives website (http://www.wfn.org/2000/02/msg00080.html; viewed 25 July 2005):
Adventist News Network
Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters
February 8, 2000
Adventist Health Leader to be Philadelphia's "Health Czar"
Philadelphia, United States ... [ANN]
Seventh-day Adventist health educator Gwen Foster has been appointed by the
mayor of Philadelphia to head up a city-wide effort to promote more exercise
and healthier eating. At the January 31 press conference announcing the new
health initiative, Foster declared that her goal was to make Philadelphia,
"the healthiest city in the nation." Foster, who has a master's degree in
public health from Loma Linda University, California, has been health
director for the Adventist Church in the Allegheny East Conference for the
past 21 years.
"Gwen is a dynamo of enthusiasm for the health work," says Dr. DeWitt
Williams, health director for the Adventist Church in North America.
Williams, who has known Foster since they went to church together as
children at Ebenezer Adventist Church in South Philadelphia, says that Gwen
will bring not only commitment and passion to her new role, but also a vast
reservoir of knowledge and experience.
"She's a wonderful communicator," Williams says. "It's rare to find a person
who can make concepts of health so simple, practical and down-to-earth that
anyone can understand them."
Foster is excited by the challenges and opportunities of her new position.
Dubbed the "Health Czar" by Mayor John Street, also an Adventist Church
member (see ANN Bulletin 11/9/99), Foster will be responsible for
coordinating health promotion activities throughout the city. She plans to
adapt the approach she has developed throughout her two decades of health
work-concentrating on promoting both individual fitness, and equipping
individuals, in turn, to teach others about the principles of healthy
Foster admits that "medicine is in my family's genes." With two brothers
who were physicians, Gwen also considered entering the medical profession.
"But after spending time at Oakwood College studying education and
psychology," Foster says, "I decided that I didn't want to be involved in
the clinical side-I wanted to actively promote health instead."
Foster first started work with the Allegheny East Conference as a bible
worker. But while visiting homes in Philadelphia's poverty-stricken inner
city, Foster realized that poor nutrition had made many people she called on
distracted, and unable to concentrate. She began showing women how to make
inexpensive, vegetarian dishes, ran five-day stop smoking seminars and
counseled people with drug or alcohol problems.
Foster continues to believe that a healthy body is a necessary first step
to a healthy mind. In encouraging the people of Philadelphia to adopt a
healthier lifestyle, Foster plans to use innovative approaches such as
initiating a city-wide "healthy night out," where restaurants will identify
low-fat, healthy options on their menus. "I'm unorthodox," says Foster. "I
always operate outside the square. And, luckily, so does the Mayor!"
One of Foster's first tasks has been to set up a web site promoting
Philadelphia's "Fun, Fit and Free 2000" program, which can be found at
http://www.phila.gov/fitandfun. [Bettina Krause]
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600
Webpage created 25 July 2005. Last modified 25 July 2005.
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