Passport to Wellness offers education, activities to ward off obesity


By Sue Cody


Providence 3Did you know that research data shows that physically active children have more active brains?


The Way to Wellville, the Clatsop County communitywide effort to improve health, is embarking on a Passport to Wellness program. Physical movement and healthy nutrition help students concentrate, pay attention and improve their behavior in the classroom, while reducing and preventing obesity.


Providence Health & Services recently gave a $40,000 Community Wellness Benefit Award to The Way to Wellville to hire a coordinator and create wellness programs in Clatsop County elementary schools.


Providence Oregon has identified childhood obesity as one of its main missions of “Creating Healthy Community Together.”


Seaside Providence Hospital CEO Kendall Sawa said, “We seek to partner with agencies and programs to help reach the unmet needs of the people we serve,” as he handed out Community Benefit Awards at the hospital. The Way to Wellville Strategic Council members Jeff Hazen and Debbie Morrow received the checks.


“We can’t do it alone. Our ministries allocate money to other agencies, to extend our mission. The Way to Wellville has a good mission,” he says.


The goal of Passport to Wellness is to create a culture of positive attitudes, knowledge and behaviors around nutrition, physical activity and emotional well-being,” says Morrow.


The program


In the fall, a 12-week Passport to Wellness program will be initiated for third, fourth and fifth graders at Lewis and Clark, and Warrenton elementary schools. Students for the program will be chosen by school counselors, administrators, teachers and staff.


“Our goal is to help students develop healthy eating habits, healthy behaviors, healthy body image and healthy emotional development,” Morrow says.


In addition to traditional physical activities, students will participate in yoga and mindfulness training.


The wellness coordinator will teach students about nutrition through growing a garden, fruit and vegetable identification and healthy cooking.


Incentives will be awarded to student participants including a jump rope, hula hoop, frisbee, a water bottle and a Passport Journal for tracking accomplishments.


With the assistance of a local chef, the students will prepare a healthy meal for their families, to cap off the program with a celebration dinner.


Support from local sources


Providence Seaside’s new Director of Mission Integration Cherilyn Frei says the Passport to Wellness will get children outdoors and could inspire more health-related programs. It is important she says to reach children with activities they are interested in.


Other community partners include food banks, Clatsop County Master Gardeners, children’s garden volunteers, Seaside Yoga instructors, The Astoria Armory, Hampton Lumber and Home Depot.


Sawa says, “We want to provide relief, comfort and care where needed. Without partners, we aren’t serving the whole community.”