The City of La Mesa Community Services Department set out to help community members successfully keep their resolutions for a healthier year through a series of “Live Well 2015” free community workshops. With funding from the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits Program, the workshops helped educate participants about healthy nutritional habits and demonstrated a variety of activities to increase physical activity, including yoga, boot camp, memory enhancement, water safety, and nutrition classes from January through November 2015.
“In 2006 our City Council adopted a Community Wellness Policy with the strategic mission of a community working together toward the common goal of making La Mesa the healthiest community in the region,” said Yvonne Garrett, Assistant City Manager and Director of Community Services. “Our programming philosophy has been one of delivering programs and services with a focus on community wellness through our City’s ‘Ready…Set…Live Well’ community wellness initiative.”
The idea behind these workshops was to allow people to experience different types of physical activities, including preparation of nutritious food, in a no-risk environment to evaluate whether or not it was a healthy habit they would be comfortable adopting. Workshop topics were selected to appeal to a variety of interests and aimed at ages 12 and up in an effort to encourage families to participate together. Workshop presenters included fitness and health education professionals.
In a yoga workshop that was geared for all fitness levels, participants practiced some basic yoga poses and received a handout that diagrammed a sun salutation they could practice at home. In hands-on nutrition demonstrations participants made healthy black bean salsa and crafted some creative and healthy after-school snacks. A summer water safety workshop at the municipal pool included poolside CPR and a free open swim session, and a “brain games” workshop included games designed to improve memory and cognitive processes. A boot camp workshop demonstrated how to use household items such as a hose, masking tape, storage bins, and your own furniture to create a personal customized exercise circuit to work at your own pace.
The workshops provided no cost opportunities for people to evaluate new activities on an individual basis to determine if the activity was a good fit for them personally.
“We provided chairs at each workshop for people who might be curious about the topic but unsure of actually performing the exercises for themselves,” said Michele Greenberg-McClung, Recreation Supervisor. “Fortunately, those chairs remained empty and participants were excited to bring their towels and mats and try things out.”
The La Mesa Community Services Department offers numerous active lifestyle classes throughout the year for all ages. Class descriptions and schedules were distributed at each workshop for those participants desiring to continue the activities in a group setting. A display table with handouts concerning other City programs such as Safe Routes to School and our new Urban Trails project was set out at each workshop to provide participants will additional information about major projects being implemented to make La Mesa a better place to live, work, and play.