Three-week health initiative wraps up

The 11 participants in the Ministry of Health’s 21-day health initiative have completed the programme and received their final assessments.

Based on the final numbers, Mary Lou Dixon was singled out as having achieved the most in the programme, through everyone’s participation was acknowledged. She won $150 for her efforts, which will be used for something health-related such as a gym membership.

Minister for Health and Human Services Anthony Eden and Chief Officer Diane Montoya, who both took part in the programme, personally congratulated each participant at an informal ceremony Monday.

‘I want to thank the chief officer for motivating and encouraging me and everyone who participated in such a wonderful programme. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is something good for us all and that it will be good for all the residents of the islands,’ Mr. Eden said.

Mrs. Montoya offered praise for the minister’s efforts.

‘I would like to thank all the staff who willingly agreed to take part. The motivator for all of us is our leader, the minister, who was such an inspiration,’ she said.

Therese Prehay, health promotions officer at the Public Health Department, explained that weight loss was not the only factor in the assessment.

‘They have also written down everything they have eaten over the past three weeks. And Ernest Ebanks (of BodySculptor) has assessed how they have done with him,’ she said.

At Monday’s ceremony, Ms Prehay described the goals of the programme, which focused on nutrition, exercise and stress management.

‘The programme was specifically designed to encourage you to adopt a healthier lifestyle, to make physical exercise and fitness a part of your daily routine and identify stresses that are part of your everyday life.

‘I hope that by completing this 21-day programme you will have achieved a sense of increased awareness which has motivated you to continue to make those tiny steps towards complete health,’ she said.

Ms Prehay stressed that though the programme had ended, participants should continue their efforts.

‘I want to use this opportunity to encourage and implore you to stay focused and continue to make those lifestyle changes necessary for a healthier, happier and longer life,’ she said.

Bethany Smith, community dietician at the Health Services Authority, who assessed how well participants kept to their nutritional goals, explained that the numbers didn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

‘All of the people I interviewed found they were much more aware of what they were eating and what their goals were; that in and of itself is an achievement. Awareness is a first step. You see what you want to change and then change it,’ Ms Smith told the group.

She also cited the support participants gave each other as a great help.

‘I do want to congratulate all of you who took part in the programme, for setting the goals and making changes.

‘Change is not easy. In three months’ time you may see really big changes. Once you start having success and achieving, you can continue to go forward,’ Ms Smith said.

The ministry launched the 21-day programme to encourage lifestyle changes that will prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Mrs. Montoya said she hoped the pilot programme would encourage other government departments as well as private companies to launch their own employee workplace health initiatives.