The Community Wellness Expo, “Get Ready, Get Set, Get Healthy,” held on July 18 at Salt River High School, was an event specifically designed for Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members as a part of the Community’s WellPath Program. Many tribal members, along with their family and friends, came out to participate, get ideas to help with improving or maintaining their fitness, and just enjoy the day with others.
Keynote speaker Anthony “Thosh” Collins provided an opening session in which he shared his knowledge of Native traditional food systems, the benefits of traditional foods, and the importance of physical activity and wellness. As noted in one of his profile descriptions, Collins uses “this understanding as his basis to encourage all to ‘Indigenize fitness and diet’ in a way that is holistic and culturally appropriate.”
The day had an array of activities for everyone to take part in, like fitness sessions geared toward young and old, Zumba, chair volleyball for youth and adults, cooking sessions, health screenings, youth fitness workshop/workouts, and more. There were sessions on relaxation, yoga, community gardening, as well as diet and nutrition. The massage therapy session was very popular, as it had a continuous waiting list for those wanting a personal massage. Comments from people who walked out of their massage session included “It felt so great and relaxing” and “I enjoyed the music that was played; it help me to really relax.”
A Community member from Lehi, Kathleen Fulwilder, summed up similar remarks of others when she shared, “I really liked the morning session because it was about history and traditional foods … [and] how the food we used to eat, we are not eating now. The [traditional] food is good for us, and it can be grown in our yards; but, [unfortunately], we are not growing and eating it. If we kept eating our traditional foods, we may not be as obese [as we are today]. Traditional foods are more nutritious. If we ate like we did before, we would be in better condition and be more [physically] fit.”
People who attended the session “Community Gardening: Connecting to Our Roots” learned of some of the services offered by the Community Garden program in the SRPMIC Cultural Resources Department, and they received a general overview on the different types of gardens that could be planted, such as rows, beds, raised beds, spiral gardens and others. The participants also learned about recommendations for plant management that included developing gardens based on irrigation (watering needs), such as intensive-care crops like beans, zucchini, squash and melons; secondary crops and plants, like vines and flowers; or perennials that need less water, like trees, bushes and cacti. A planting calendar handout was provided that gave information on recommended times and seasons to plant certain plants and crops.
Throughout the day, tables were set up in the main corridor for everyone to visit and obtain health-related information. As the event wrapped up, prize winners were announced based on the selection of raffle entries received from people who attended at least three sessions of the program.
One of the event coordinators, Toni Harvier, shared, “Every year we continually have Community members that come to the event because they know there is something to learn and will help them get motivated …. It is a good kick-off to help them with their personal wellness goals or begin to set wellness goals for themselves. Some people come just to get information and learn how to become healthier.”
There were young and old alike at the event, people who expressed inquisitive minds, displayed smiling faces and exuded positive energy that could be seen and felt throughout the day.