By hosting the annual Speaking of Women’s Health conference each October for the past 17 years, Shawnee Mission Health has shown its dedication to improving the health and well being of women in Kansas City.

After a highly successful, sold-out event in 2014, SMH is expanding its focus on women’s health by introducing a new name for the program: Living in Vitality or LIV. While all the things women love about Speaking of Women’s Health will remain, the new program will encourage women of all ages to enhance their well being through many monthly activities relating to nutrition, exercise, stress management, emotional and mental wellness and financial fitness.

“LIV represents a new approach to women’s health that focuses on more than the absence of disease, but rather a process of becoming aware and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life,” said Robin Patykiewicz, LIV program director. “Through our uplifting and educational annual conference and wellness activities, LIV will empower Kansas City women to live healthier lives physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Although the name has changed to LIV, the program will continue to feature top local and national speakers and offer health screenings such as bone density, blood pressure, cholesterol, posture and balance, and vision, as well as provide bra fittings, hands-on CPR and seasonal flu shots.

Seven years ago while attending the conference, Patykiewicz discovered she had elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol. She has since personally experienced how the event can spark positive life changes.

“I decided to take action by seeing my doctor for a full physical, joining Jazzercise and taking nutrition classes to start on a healthier eating path,” said Patykiewicz. “As a result, I lost nearly 30 pounds, controlled my blood pressure and began managing my cholesterol.”

Although the annual conference is a good starting point for many women to get their health on track, it’s equally important to form healthy habits that will last the entire year. To help women meet their year-round health goals, LIV offers monthly programs and classes on topics such as financial planning, cooking, gardening and networking as well as a women’s 5K training team.

Designed to reduce cardiovascular disease, Take Time to LIV is another new component of the program that features 10-months of wellness training. Take Time to LIV provides selected women who are at risk for heart disease with the tools needed to improve their health such as screenings, one-on-one consultations with health professionals, a gym membership with personal training sessions, nutritional classes and a Garmin vivosmart fitness tracker.

With its many offerings, LIV not only strengthens SMH’s commitment to women’s health but also supports its mission of Improving Health Through Christian Service.

For example, the LIV dental fund was established to assist women in the Kansas City community who need front tooth repair and have minimal resources to cover the procedure cost. LIV also supports the Virginia Stowers Breast Cancer Fund, which provides free mammograms to uninsured women; Camp Bluebird, a retreat for adult cancer patients; and Tess’s Touch, an organization that provides resources for new moms.

“Our mission is to improve the health of the community,” said Ken Bacon, SMH’s president and CEO. “This program is just one way we do that. LIV will allow us to further impact the health of Kansas City women.”

Learn more about Living in Vitality.

Jackie Woods writes for Shawnee Mission Health.