Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Women 4 Wellness draws health-conscious crowd

Reporter | May 25, 2023 12:00 AM

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, about 450 visitors attended the health event.

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

Many displays were hands-on, such as Providence St. Joseph Medical Center’s primo location just inside the front door where two or three people stood in line for blood-pressure checks. As she fitted the cuff, the nurse discussed signs of heart disease that differ for women – such as pressure between the shoulder blades, shortness of breath, fatigue and nausea.

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

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

As well as education on heart disease, 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, be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, and sign up for blood tests to check liver function or cholesterol at a later date, just to name a few. Immunizations, mental health services, breast exams, cervical screenings, thyroid gland examinations, bone-density, chiropractic and vision screenings, and information on men’s health were also available.

Although she wasn’t participating in health testing, Andrea Adams, a staffer for Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Food Sovereignty Program, was telling passers-by about classes held around the reservation on gardening. Instruction covers all stages from soil preparation, planting and fertilizing, to weeding and eventually harvesting fresh vegetables. She noted that people benefit from eating vegetables and fruit, and gardening is a good way to get some exercise, have fun with friends, and then eat the fresh-picked vegetables at the end of summer.

“People love to garden,” said Dana Hewankorn, who also works at the Food Sovereignty Program.

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


Young visitor naps through Women 4 Wellness. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)


Providence St. Joseph's Medical Center had a popular spot by the front door at Women 4 Wellness on May 19. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)