Youth participate in the youth fitness workshop conducted by the Native American Fitness Council.

Wellness Expo Inspires Families to Live Well

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

On Saturday, July 21, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community WellPath program welcomed enrolled Community members and their immediate family members to come and learn about healthy living during the annual Community Wellness Expo.

The first thing families did when they arrived was register, and they were given a card to have stamped after each class they completed. The participants were required to attend at least two fitness classes and one educational class to be eligible for the prize drawing. The first 100 participants were given an early-bird incentive for their attendance; children received a $10 gift card to Toys-R-Us and adults were given a $10 gift card to Subway. Participants were also given a raffle ticket for a chance to win a gift card to the movies, a restaurant or a store throughout the event.

Before participants could learn about healthy living, they first were welcomed by SRPMIC WellPath Strategic Team member Toni Harvier and Physical Fitness Specialist Jason Seepie, who started off the events with a quick stretching session.

SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier was the guest speaker; he talked about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and motivation.

“It starts one step at a time. We start something and we want to see results right away, but it’s not like that. It takes time, and I know it gets discouraging,” said Harvier about losing weight.

Harvier also stressed that diabetes has touched everyone in the Community, where all the young members, including his own children, expect they will develop diabetes during their lifetime.

“I encourage you to try to go to as many [educational sessions] as you can and learn as much as you can to make lifestyle changes for you and your family,” said Harvier. “Our Community is battling diabetes. If we put our minds to it and make changes [both individually] and as a Community, we can become stronger, and that starts at home with changes in our lifestyles. It’s not easy getting started, but the benefits you’ll see are overwhelming. I think you’re going to say, ‘I’m glad I did it.’”

Harvier ended his talk on a personal note, sharing with the audience an experience that nearly cost him a missed opportunity.

Harvier and his wife Toni recently traveled to Utah to drop off their youngest daughter at a summer camp. During their trip, the couple decided to visit Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. His wife talked Harvier into taking a hike. Little did he know that this hike would be five miles on a long and winding path up the mountain.

“I don’t know how many times I was going up on the switchbacks and I would stop and think to myself, ‘I’m done, this is as far as I’m going.’ But [Toni] would say, ‘No, let’s keep going,’ so I would get up again. Then I would stop again and say, ‘I think I’m done now, this is far enough,’ [and] she said to keep going,” said Harvier.

“I don’t know how many times I stopped and wanted to give up, but Toni said to me, ‘If you stop now, you’re always going to wonder what we missed out on.’ Those who were coming down from the mountain keep telling us that [the view at the top] was beautiful, ‘It’s worth it.’ And it was really beautiful up there when we got to the top. There was a glacier feeding the lake, and it was really something to see. I thought about [how] these eyes would have never seen that lake if it was up to me, because I would have [gone] back down; but with my wife pushing me, I was able to see that lake. It’s always good to have someone there to encourage you to keep going.”

Following Harvier’s pep talk, everyone started their journey toward healthy living. This year’s expo included a number of physical education, cooking and nutrition classes for Community members looking to make healthy changes. The classes included line dancing, Zumba, Mousercise, Yoga, Boot Camp, Cooking, Foam Roller 101, proper shoe fitting and more.

Among a few new classes this year was Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art form that combines the elements of dance, music and gymnastics. A youth fitness workshop and workout conducted by the Native American Fitness Council of Flagstaff taught youth how to have fun while excising. Other classes focused on emotional health within families, including workshops on domestic violence prevention, bullying prevention and the Kinship Conference Series.

The event ended with the prize drawing. Community member Natalia Sanchez won an exercise Bike, Isabelle Howard won the Treadmill, and Anissa Tony won a home gym. In the children’s category Norma Gutierrez won a portable basketball goal and Nianna Namoki won a Batman series Xbox consol.

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