Last year 45 Arab women from East Jerusalem gathered at the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem to celebrate their graduation from the center’s Health Promotion program.

The program offers a unique approach for promoting heart-healthy behavior for Arab women who are at risk of heart disease. It meets a critical need: the incidence of diabetes and heart disease is 60 percent higher in Arab women than in Jewish women. The group-based healthy lifestyle intervention program, adapted from the US Diabetes Prevention Program, was tailored by the Pollin Center to meet the cultural, language, and religious sensitivities of Arab women.

Representatives from the city of Jerusalem and staff from Hadassah Ein Kerem congratulated the women on their commitment to completing the 22-session course. Well-wishers included Ruth Meir Agrat and Suleina Jamal from the Jerusalem municipality; Barbara Sofer, Israel director of public relations for the Hadassah Office in Israel; Prof. Offer Amir, head of cardiology at Ein Kerem; and Dr. Donna Zfat-Zwas, Pollin Center director.

Women from Bet Safafa and Wadi Joz described changes they had made to adopt and promote a healthier lifestyle. Saida, Amal, and Amar shared their inspiring personal journeys and successes in introducing healthy living activities in their communities as health promotion leaders. Leadership training, part of the program, promotes resilience, empowering women to lead change.