Families of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community attended the 2015 Family Health and Wellness Fair at the Salt River Community Building on the evening of March 24. Many tribal departments and vendors set up booths for everyone to visit to get information on health and wellness.
Attendees enjoyed dinner, games, entertainment and a complimentary back massage. This year a little more than 230 people walked through the doors. The free dinner was offered to the first 150 people who came in after 3 p.m. Rachel Seepie of the Salt River Fitness Center led a Zumba demonstration, and prize raffles also took place.
The planning for the Health and Wellness Fair began back in October. SRPMIC Education Department Food Services Manager Joni Andreas contacted MaryLynn Marshburn, health educator, and Catherine Hacker, R.N., of the Clinical Services Program.
This was the first time that the SRPMIC Department of Health and Human Services, Education Department, Education’s School Wellness Program and Health and Human Services-Health Education collaborated to put on a wellness fair for the Community.
“I had reached out to the two ladies to see if they would like to combine the school wellness and Community wellness [programs]. I thought the Wellness Fair went very well; working together with MaryLynn and Catherine has been a good combination,” said Andreas.
In the beginning of this school year, the WellPath Community Wellness Fair was held at Salt River High School, and Andreas thought the departments could work together someday to get more health information out to the Community.
“I’m sure we could never have too much on this topic, but working together has been beneficial for Community, I think,” said Andreas. Students need to know the importance of starting a healthy lifestyle that could and should stay with them for a lifetime.”
Andreas said she is proud of the schools’ participation in the Family Health and Wellness Fair and of how the children of the Early Childhood Education Center created beautiful handmade health books. Members of the Salt River High School Student Council and ROTC also participated in the fair.
“Being active is what it is all about, and I’m happy for all of the parents and grandparents coming out and getting involved,” said Andreas. “We are hoping for a bigger and better event next year so students can show what they are learning.”
Schools all over the country, including Salt River schools, have been going through many changes to comply with new National School Lunch Program rules for serving more healthful menu items. School lunches now contain more whole-grain foods and more fruits and vegetables. Andreas recalled how one day the school served tater tots made from sweet potatoes, and some kids asked why the tater tots were orange.
“They were surprised to know it was [made from] a sweet potato. Everyone thought it was pretty good,” said Andreas. “The National School Lunch Program [wants schools to] serve vegetable subgroups of red/orange, dark green, bean, starch and others [each] week. Sweet potato is a red/orange vegetable. We serve a slush cup made from 100 percent fruit juice. We also serve whole-grain cheese crackers and whole-grain animal crackers, which students get for snacks.”
About the Health and Wellness Fair, Marshburn said, “It was a fantastic event! I would like to thank all the departments who participated and helped out. I would like to also thank the Public Works Department for all their help, and Salt River Elementary School principal Erik Haarstad and SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier.”
The SRPMIC departments and other vendors represented at the event were chiropractor Abbas Khayami, D.C., and his massage therapist, who gave the free massages; the Barrow Neurological Institute; Salt River Diabetes Program; DHHS benefits coordinators; Rousseau Farms, which gave away free produce; SRES kindergarten teacher Dawn Burstyn-Meyers, showing the books made by her kindergarten class; Salt River Public Health Nurse/Community Health representatives; the Early Childhood Education Center; Salt River High School; SRPMIC Food Services; the Cultural Resources Department; Salt River Behavioral Health; and Salt River Royalty.