Champaign County residents wanting to learn healthy habits have a few opportunities left this year to do so as part of the Passport to Wellness program.
Passport to Wellness is a free series of health seminars organized by the Champaign Health District, Mercy Memorial Hospital and the Champaign Family YMCA. The program got its start last year, after a community-wide health needs assessment indicated the public wanted more information on how to be healthy in their daily lives.
Participants get a free “passport” at any of the events, and they can get it stamped when they attend the seminars, according to an informational website at www.community-mercy.org.
There are fewer events this year than last year, organizers say, to keep from overloading attendees.
“Last year we held them once a month, but found that during summer, Christmas and other holidays, we had lower attendance because people were so busy,” YMCA Health Enhancement Director Jennifer Post said. “So we wanted to limit it to have better attendance at the events.”
The Passport program coincides with the YMCA’s Champaign Health Improvement Program (CHIP), she said.
“Health awareness in general is really needed in small communities like this, and knowing where to reach out and get help if you need it,” Post said.
Mercy Memorial Hospital Chief Clinical Dietician Elaine Dyar said she hopes the events will promote healthy eating and overall wellness and nutrition with exercise.
At every passport event, information is provided with general tips on how to be healthy. The events are for people of all ages, with individual events targeting either specific ages or groups. Most of the events have a speaker and some kind of participation or demonstration.
This year’s events began in February with “Go Red for Women” at the YMCA, which celebrated women’s fight against heart disease.
The next Passport event will be “Staying Fit” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the Champaign Family YMCA. After that will be Fashions to a Tea from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Champaign County Fairgrounds. The last event this year will be Preventing Diabetes at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Mercy Memorial Hospital.
The YMCA works with Mercy Memorial and the health district to try to get people in the county to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Each event is designed to instruct in a variety of ways to improve health.
At the Staying Fit event, there will be a “glow dance,” in which the lights will be turned off and participants will dance under black lights. Glow sticks will be available to enhance the effect. Also at the event will be cycling and pool exercises.
Staying Fit will be limited to the first 50 sign-ups due to space issues. Fashions to a Tea also has a registration requirement, Post said.
“It is extremely important that we start taking the initiative to take care of our own health and be responsible for it, to be proactive versus reactive,” Dyar said. “I think this is a great opportunity … for people to take charge of their own health.”
For more information, call 937-484-6112 or the YMCA at 937-653-9622.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.