On July 19, the annual Wellness Expo was held for Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members of all ages at the Salt River High School. The expo was presented through the Community WellPath program and designed for individuals to take part in various exercise and healthy lifestyle activities.
Different “Wellness Zones” that were set up focused on healthful options such as Swedish massage therapy sessions, workshops for living healthy, and many more.
The keynote speaker was Waylon Pahona, a fitness trainer from Gila River who once weighed 260 pounds but turned his life around through exercise and healthy activities. In high school, Pahona was into sports, but as he got older, his weight increased and he developed arthritis in his spine. A physical therapist told him he could not run, so Pahona took up running just to prove the therapist wrong. He and his wife started a weight-training program and also started a group on Facebook called Healthy Active Natives, through which he documented his journey to better health and also encouraged other Native Americans to share their stories about healthy transformations.
The expo started in mid-morning and continued through the afternoon with fitness sessions including chair volleyball, capoeira, Zumba, tai chi, enhanced fitness (for seniors), yoga, boot camp, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Zumba for kids, meditation and Mousercise.
“I really enjoyed the expo and handouts, the demo yoga and chair volleyball game and other activities,” said Lily Reyes.
Workshop topics included traditional foods; “My Plate,” which taught everyone about healthy portion sizes; Swinging It with Talking Stick Golf Club; Community Gardening; Stress Management; Healthy Puzzle Making; Starting Your Wellness Program; Great Body Shop; and Training with a Trainer. A variety of cooking demos showed how to prepare healthy dishes.
“I needed two of me to attend all the classes; it was a good selection to choose from,” said Kay McAnlis.
In the lecture hall, SRPMIC Health and Human Services health educator Vurlene Notsinneh Bowekaty led an interactive presentation on bullying for youth and families. A youth fitness workshop was held outside on the high school practice field, where youth were able to go through several workouts with fitness staff before the temperature started to rise too high.
“It was awesome; I got to meet and give a massage to Waylon Pahona,” said Meredith Duwyenie, who was at the Swedish massage class. Duwyenie said that about 15 individuals came to the massage class.
“This was my first time attending and I found it very informative,” said Lorinda Kauakahi. “I will be back next year.”
Information tables were spread out through the main hallway with vendors and programs handing out information: the Recreation Department, Fatherhood Program, Diabetes Prevention, Cultural Resources, Community Development, Foster Care, First Things First, Senior Center, Noah Webster School, Herbalife, Youth Services and the Special Needs Resources Program.
The first 100 people who came into the expo received Early Bird incentives and there was also a prize drawing.