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Maame Biney becomes first African-American to make U.S. Olympic women speedskating team

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Maame Biney never set out to make history.The 17-year-old native of Ghana cruised to victory in the first 500 final at the short track trials on Saturday, beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman and Katherine Reutter-Adamek. “I can’t believe it, aww geez,” she said after squealing with joy. “It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in first because it takes me a while. I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’” Before the second final, her father sitting in the stands held up a sign reading: “Kick some hiney Biney.”

But make history is exactly what she did at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Short Track Speedskating. Biney qualified for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in the 500-meter, becoming the first black women’s speedskater on a U.S. Olympic Team. And the giggly high schooler couldn’t hold back her emotions. “Aaaaahhhhhhhh,” Biney squealed to reporters. “I can’t believe it! Ah, jeez. It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in. It takes me a while before it’s like, ‘Holy cow.’” At Olympic trials, each distance has two full rounds with two A finals. A skater’s result in each final is awarded a point value and the two results are added together. The winner of each overall distance classification qualifies for the Olympic team. After falling multiple times in Friday night’s 1,500-meter races, including in the first final, where she was penalized for taking out Katherine Reutter-Adamek, Biney was hoping her falls were behind her and that Saturday would be her time to shine. Plus, she knew the 500 was her best distance. Biney took full advantage of her strength in the 500, cruising through wins in her first quarterfinal, semifinal and final – beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman and Reutter-Adamek in that final. In the second round, Biney again sailed through the second round, winning the quarterfinal and settling for a close second to Kooreman in her semifinal round. In the final, she exploded off the line to take an early lead that only widened as the race progressed, leaving no doubt as to who would take first place and the Olympic berth. Gehring and Kooreman finished the 500-meter overall classification tied for second. “I was thinking I had to beat Jess at the start because she has such a good start and I did, so I made it!” Biney said of her strategy for the second final. Biney’s celebration after that race was priceless. She fell to the ice, first sitting on her butt and giggling, then turned onto her knees with gratitude. “When I crossed the finish line, I don’t know what I was thinking – I was just like, ‘I got first, that’s so cool.’ And when I realized I made the Olympic team I started cheering like crazy,” she said. “And then I made my epic fall, so, yeah, you’re welcome.” Biney was a strong favorite to make the three-woman U.S. Olympic Short Track Speedskating Team heading into the trials. She first made a name for herself in the sport last season when she won bronze in the 500-meter at the world junior championships, becoming just the second U.S. woman since 1996 to medal at junior worlds. Biney easily made her first senior-level world cup team a few months later, when she was the overall women’s winner at the world cup qualifier, beating out several Olympians for that title. While she has not yet reached a world cup podium, Biney’s star has continued to shine on that stage. In four world cups this season, she has earned fifth- and seventh-place finishes at the short’s fastest, and perhaps most exciting, distance. Biney was born in Ghana and moved to the U.S. at 5 years old to visit her father. But as the story goes, Biney visited a mall and quickly fell in love with life in the States, so she stayed. Her father enrolled her in figure skating lessons the next year after noticing a sign advertising the sport. She quickly switched to speedskating at the suggestion of a coach, and hasn’t looked back. Biney was quick to thank her father after qualifing for the Games, attributing much of her success and perseverance to him. “He’s been through everything and I’m amazed by him. I just want to thank him a lot for everything,” Biney said of her father, Kweku. “I haven’t been home since October, and that’s the longest I’ve ever not been home. It’s been really hard on him and on me because he helps with my mindset. Before that, he’s been through all the practices with me and watches me every day and gives me tips, and I love him for that.” Biney becomes the second black speedskater to represent Team USA at the Olympics, following in the footsteps of the legendary Shani Davis. Davis was two years older when he made his first Olympic team in 2002, also in short track. He soon switched to long track and has since made three more Olympic teams and earned four medals, including two golds. The teen joins 2010 Olympian Lana Gehring, who qualified in the 1,500-meter, as the first two women on the U.S. Olympic Short Track Speedskating Team. They will both compete in the 500 and 1,500 in PyeongChang. A third woman will join them on the team after Sunday’s 1,000 finals. Source TEAMUSA]]>

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WATCH: Tiwa Savage speaks on leaked sex video

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Tiwa Savage has reacted to her leaked sex video weeks after she claimed someone was trying to blackmail her with the video. (more…)

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Meet Stella Agyei, the midwife taking health education from the classroom to remote areas.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the number of women and girls who died each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth declined from 451,000 in 2000 to 295,000 in 2017.

These improvements are particularly remarkable in light of rapid population growth in many of the countries where maternal deaths are highest. Still, over 800 women are dying each day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. And for every woman who dies, approximately 20 others suffer serious injuries, infections, or disabilities.

Quite disturbingly, two regions, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, account for 86% of maternal deaths worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africans suffer from the highest maternal mortality ratio – 533 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, or 200,000 maternal deaths a year. This is over two-thirds (68%) of all maternal deaths per year worldwide.

It is statistics like these as well as hands-on, personal experiences with real-world cases that motivated a young midwife to embark on an aggressive campaign of educating would-be as well as new parents on the risk factors of infant and maternal mortality.

From early beginnings at the Shai Osudoku Hospital in Accra, Stella Agyei has expanded her sensitisation and education drive to the television screens, reaching a wider audience and having a greater impact, in spite of tremendous difficulties. Below, we delve into the making of the young but vastly experienced midwife who is redefining health education and outreach.

Early life and education

Stella describes her humble childhood as “not easy” owing to “the lack of support and understanding from her guardian,” as well as having to contend with all that came along from very evident financial constraints. She was, however, a sprightly child who exuded confidence and had a knack for self-motivation, traits she has carried along into adulthood and impacted all who come across her path with.

Having a penchant for reading and realizing that nothing was going to be offered her on a silver platter, Stella was determined to turn her narrative around through academic excellence, most notably, during her time at the Nsaaba Presbyterian School, when she was so many miles away from home.

Her desire to succeed was heightened through the various vacation schools she attended. It was through these schools that she realized that she was equally as good as her counterparts from the A-rated schools in Kumasi despite her attending a B-rated school.

Following a stellar performance during the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), she gained admission to the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), where she was again excelled in her studies and earned her first degree, with Bachelor of Midwifery.

Health education as a lively passion

During her days at UHAS, she engaged in the buying and selling of garments to augment the source of her educational funding, which was inadequate. This was the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey.

Upon graduation, she was posted to the Shai Osudoku Hospital in Accra or her mandatory year of national service. There, she took delight in educating expectant parents, having realized the rather disturbingly high infant and maternal mortality rates, all the while discharging duties related to labour management.

This passion and the skills required to execute it were further honed during a number of Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHIPS) compounds in and around the Volta Region.

The Health Link Show

The desire continued and has evolved, with a special focus on preventive health and education, culminating in the birth of the Health Link Show. This came after the insistence of a bosom friend, who believed that Stella had the right mix of skill, passion, and experience to put together a very successful and impactful health-centric TV show. She began committing resources towards the show around October of 2018.

Several challenges came along the way in putting this health-education show together, most notably, identifying and attracting the right sponsors, particularly for the very first season. Despite being an uphill task, as she had very little verifiable record in this new venture, she was, through grit, persistence, and a detailed plan, able to secure good sponsorship deals which enabled her to shoot the first season.

The pilot episode aired a year after on October 29, 2019, on GHOne Television. So far, two seasons have been aired on GHOne, with the third season is coming up. Despite ongoing challenges, including signing up sponsors, putting together a production crew, content creation, research, and logistic constraints, Health Link is on course for season three, which will focus on some selected rural communities.
The third season will have the regular health education element, donation of medical logistics, provision of some primary health care where applicable. Additionally, clothing and consumables will also be given to some members of these communities who are impoverished.

Impact

The young, yet experienced midwife has been able to impact a lot of lives through her platform as a health educator and promoter, particularly through the show where she has oftentimes had to serve as the sole host, executive producer, marketer, and scriptwriter among others.

Through the success of the show, Stella has been able to legally establish a foundation aimed at supporting individuals and communities with pertinent and pressing health issues.

This is called the Health Link Specialist Foundation. Though this foundation is still in its nascent stage, it has provided logistics, consumables, and funds to support some health-related charitable causes in many communities.

These items include cash, wheelchairs, Zimmer frames, foodstuffs (oil, rice, tomato pastes, etc.), toiletries (soap, detergents, sanitary pads, diapers,), and medical supplies (thermometers, sphygmomanometer, skin creams, medications, nose masks, hand sanitizers etc.).

In prior seasons, Health Link TV show has been sponsored and supported by Nestle Ghana Limited, Moods Condom, M&C Properties, Prince Syrup, Unilever, Pharmanova, BD medical laboratories, and Home fresh foods.

So far, with the production of the third season underway, only one sponsor has come on board, and Health Link is thankful to the management of Serene Insurance for its commitment.

According to Stella Agyei: “We are humbly appealing to other individuals and corporates to come on-board. We are still accepting sponsorship and donations from individuals and companies to enable us to cover costs of production, surgeries, hospital & medication bills, and other unforeseen expenses of some sick people in need of medical attention in this third season.”

 

Source: thebftonline.com

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Psalm Adjetefio “TT” blames current predicament on his ex-wife

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Veteran  Ghanaian actor, Psalm Adjetefio, popularly known as T.T, has disclosed that all the mishaps in his life are as a result of his ex-wife. (more…)

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Shatta Wale receives birthday shout out from Beyoncé

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Self-acclaimed “King of Dancehall”, Shatta Wale has received a special birthday shout out from the Queen Bee herself, Beyoncé. (more…)

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Finance Minister urges Ghanaians to venture into entrepreneurship as gov’t payroll is full

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The Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta has revealed that the government’s payroll is full, therefore, the youth must venture into entrepreneurship to boost the economy. (more…)

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Showcasing Ghana To The Rest Of Africa: Alphonse Menyo’s First Short Film “Perceptions” Has Been Selected For Afriff!!!!

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From the stables of Nkuluziza Film Productions comes yet another production which has been selected to be screened at the biggest showcase for African films and filmmakers, AFRIFF! Being produced and directed by Alphonse Menyo, “Perceptions” seeks to break the stereotypes many of which have been created through Western film images of Africa. “Perceptions” is the only Ghanaian short film to have been selected to be screened at the 10th Africa International Film Festival which is scheduled to take place from 7th-13th November, 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

The director, Alphonse Menyo manages to successfully display Ghana in the beautiful cinematography which seeks to promote the culture and values of Ghanaians to the rest of Africa. The director believes that most people in the society remained unfulfilled in life due to their acceptance to live in another man’s world rather than pursuing their dreams. “Perceptions” seeks to artistically portray the relevance of pursuing after true happiness.

 

Alphonse Menyo is a Ghanaian born actor/filmmaker and his passion and determination led him to achievements such as Best Actor nomination in the 2020 AMAA Awards, winner of the Best Actor in the 2019 Ghana Movie Awards and the Best Actor at the 2018 Fickn Film Festival. Some of his notable productions include Gold Coast Lounge, Utopia, Black Rose, Freetown among others.

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