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‘The Fall of the Kings,’ Tackles Mental Health in the Black Community

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the fall of the kings, mental health, Walter Puryear, Mai Sennaar

The arts have emerged as a unique way of communicating health challenges and triumphs. True wellness is holistic, however, mental health has often been regarded as both a separate and uncomfortable subject, particularly in the African American community. Writer and Director, Mai Sennaar and Producer Walter Puryear are bringing an enticing new American drama with Afro-Caribbean roots to New York which tackles the complexities of identity, class, gender and mental health through the lens of the 1940s. The Fall of the Kings, tells the story of an African American heiress and her Caribbean husband fighting to sustain their family in the midst of an economic disaster. The play explores multiple factors that can impact mental health such as hereditary factors, environmental factors and stress.  According to the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African American adults are “20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress” than Caucasian adults. Additionally, African Americans “living below poverty are two to three times more likely to report serious psychological distress” than those living above the poverty line. “The more that the conversation on mental and emotional health finds its way into our communities, the easier it becomes for families and patients to seek the help they need without a sense of shame or fear of being judged. Art can be an excellent tool in the combat against stigma,” says Sennaar.

The Fall of the Kings, reflects Sennaar’s continued interest in providing a unique perspective on the conversation around mental health. At the age of 19, Sennaar’s first play, The Broken Window Theory, premiered at the famed Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe in New York City starring Tony award-winner Tonya Pinkins and was directed by Tony award-nominee Michele Shay. Set in the graffiti movement of the late 1970s, the play tells the story of a mother suffering from Huntington’s disease and her relationship with her only son. Both the mother and son are artists and must find new ways to communicate as the disease progresses. The Fall of the Kings features an award-winning production team hailing from Broadway, film and television. Choreographer, Dyane Harvey-Salaam’s credits include The Wiz (original stage and film versions) and the classic Spike Lee film School Daze. Set designer, Christopher Cumberbatch’s, work has appeared both in theatre and in the Spike Lee films Crooklyn and Malcolm X. Composer Diana Wharton was a founding member of Sweet Honey in The Rock and composer for Ntozake Shange’s Broadway hit For Colored Girls… The award-winning, Grammy nominated composer and trumpeter Christian Scott is a featured guest soloist on the play’s main theme.

Through captivating performances, live percussion, dance and an incredible jazz score, the play is an inspiring celebration of the human spirit. Click here to view the theatrical trailer and visit www.thefallofthekings.com for tickets and information.

Kumba Sennaar is a freelance writer, researcher on science and health, aspiring physician and Master’s candidate in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) in Science, Technology & Society (STS) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her passion is to help people live healthier, happier lives. For superior articles and content for your website, interviews, or technical writing support contact Kumba via email at Ksennaa1@jhu.edu or Twitter @kumbas1.

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Deanna Robinson Talks Health and Fitness to Young Girls at The P.E.A.R.L.S. Inc.

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About The P.E.A.R.L.S. Inc.

P.E.A.R.L.S. is a female mentoring group established in 2011 under the leadership of the founder, Hope Kent. The acronym P.E.A.R.L.S. translates to Purposefully Empowering And Reaching Little Sisters. This group educates female students in the 5th and 6th grades by giving them a positive outlook on life through adult female mentoring, lectures, workshops, physical activity and practical application. In 2013, P.E.A.R.L.S. implemented the Petite P.E.A.R.L.S. to begin mentoring young ladies in the 3rd and 4th grades.

“It’s awesome hearing so many young girls saying “Thank you so much Mrs. Robinson!!!” I was thrilled to teach the girls of The P.E.A.R.L.S. Inc., about health and fitness today, taking them through a fun workout!”

About Deanna

She is the Queen of #TeamFabBody, your favorite trainer and most of all a one of a kind motivator. Meet Deanna Jefferson! Deanna is a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park, where she received her Bachelor’s of Science degree double majoring in Kinesiology and Public & Community Health. She has over eight years of health and fitness experience and is currently the sole proprietor of Deanna Jefferson Fitness and owner of Fab Body Factory gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Deanna has had the joy of working with an array of celebrity and VIP clientele including media personality Free, Debra Lee (CEO of BET Networks), Skylar Diggins (WNBA star), Karrueche (Model), Mila J (Recording Artist), Dawn Richard (Danity Kane/Dirty Money), Rob Riley (VH1’s Hit The Floor), Karen Civil (Blogger/Cultural Architect), Africa Miranda (Bravo TV), Bridget Kelly (Recording Artist) and The Washington Redskins.

Deanna also conducts fitness training for men, women and children through her group exercise and personal training programs, and she stresses the importance of a clean diet through her meal planning and nutrition consultation services. Deanna draws from her experiences as a former NCAA collegiate athlete in competitive cheerleading/tumbling and acrobatics, and from her experiences working with both athletes and non-athletes alike.

Deanna is highly qualified as a health and fitness expert, working over 11,000 active hours in her career field. She holds a nationally accredited personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Deanna is also a licensed coach holding a professional-grade coaching license from the United States All-Star Federation (USASF), the national federation that governs competitive all-star cheerleading in the United States. She has additional specialty certificates and education in: First Aid; Adult and Infant/Child CPR and AED; Health, Safety, and Nutrition; Health Programming and Planning; Health Behavior; Women’s Health; and Drug Use and Abuse.

Deanna was named an official NIKE trainer in 2012 and and has taken part in several small and large scale fitness campaigns and events. She instructs a weekly Nike Training Club (NTC) class in DC’s flagship Nike store and led the warm-up for 15,000 women at the inaugural Nike Women Half Marathon in Washington, DC in April 2013. Deanna also instructed a large scale NTC workout for over 300 fitness enthusiasts on center court of New York’s renowned Barclays Center. Deanna is also the resident fitness contributor for Black Enterprise Magazine and was named “Top 30 Under 30” by WKYS 93.9 FM, “30 Under 30” by Refinery29, and Woman of the Year by Stiletto Woman Media, a Forbes-ranked leadership-centric lifestyle improvement company for modern working business women. Deanna was also featured as an expert panelist at the 20th annual NBC Health and Fitness Expo on “How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off”, and has been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, JET Magazine, Oxygen Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, The Examiner, Fox 5 News and several local and national blogs. Through her amazing energy and passion for health and fitness, Deanna has been able to capture an entire region with her charismatic style of workouts and vivacious personality.

Deanna is a strong believer in giving back and shares her passion of health and fitness by working with several non-profit organizations including the High Tea Society, Usama Young’s Youth Foundation, Women of Noble Character, The Girl Scouts of America, Maryland Multicultural Youth Center, and United Communities Against Poverty. In addition to the list of organizations that she supports, her Fab Body Factory has become a loyal supporter of the Washington, D.C. Turkey Trot that occurs every Thanksgiving. In 2011, the Fab Body Factory team raised over $7,000 and received an official thank you letter from the S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) Organization. Deanna instructs workplace wellness programs at the American Medical Association, and has also served as a research assistant at Children’s Hospital Department of Research Center of Genetics, where she assisted in the execution and evaluation of an exercise intervention in insulin-resistant minority adolescents.

As Deanna advances through her career, she will continue to grow her brand and has goals of positioning herself as one of the most sought after trainers in the country. By setting her brand in the public eye with celebrity and VIP clientele, and large media appearances, she realizes that she can be a positive influence and inspiration to people of all walks of life. Where does the passion come from? Deanna states, “God has given me a fervent enthusiasm and charisma to lead people to more fulfilling lives mentally and physically. It is my pleasure and purpose to sculpt healthy people!”

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