Women 4 Wellness attracts health-conscious crowd

May 25 — It’s been four years since Women 4 Wellness filled the Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center on the Salish Kootenai College campus with offerings for women of all ages. Held this year on May 18, around 450 visitors attended the health event.

“It makes me happy,” said participant Tami-Lynn Olson of Somers, who especially appreciated the suicide prevention information chart and other resources.

Many displays were practical, such as Providence St. Joseph Medical Center right outside the front door, where two or three people lined up to get their blood pressure checked. While adjusting the cuff, the nurse discussed the signs of heart disease that differ among women — such as pressure between the shoulder blades, shortness of breath, fatigue and nausea.

The blood pressure check was a wake-up call for a woman who said her blood pressure was higher than it should be. She hadn’t taken the medicine for two days, but promised to come home immediately to take it.

It’s just one of the ways W4W focuses on health education and disease prevention by offering a variety of free or low-cost health screenings and information designed specifically for women. WFW is sponsored by the SKC Center for Prevention and Wellness.

In addition to heart disease education, people could be fitted for a bra, have an on-the-spot Pap smear, buy a red nose to support a children’s charity, question insurance companies, get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and apply for blood tests to check liver function or cholesterol at a later date, just to name a few. Vaccinations, mental health services, breast exams, cervical exams, thyroid gland exams, bone density, chiropractic and vision exams, and men’s health information were also available.

Although she was not participating in the health test, Andrea Adams, an employee of the Food Sovereignty Program for the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was telling passersby about the gardening classes held on the reserve. The instruction covers all steps from soil preparation, planting and fertilizing, to weeding and eventually harvesting fresh vegetables. She noted that people benefit from eating vegetables and fruits, and gardening is a good way to exercise, have fun with friends, and then eat the freshly picked veggies in late summer.

“People love gardening,” said Dana Hewankorn, who also works on the Food Sovereignty Program.

Overall, W4W vendors provided a wealth of free and valuable information, and their return to SKC after the pandemic was clearly welcomed by attendees.

Women 4 Wellness attracts health-conscious crowd

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