by NZ CATHOLIC staff
UPPER HUTT — The Upper Hutt City Council and St Joseph’s Church, Upper Hutt, have undertaken a joint wellness plan involving an intensive eight-week course covering healthy lifestyles, healthy homes and exercise for life.
Specialists and keynote speakers came to speak about issues like nutrition, blood pressure and body mass index checks, optometrist, pharmacist, podiatrist and other specialist services.
For healthy homes, the programme addressed the health and wellbeing of the family at home. This was achieved in various ways including education, budgeting advice, tips on creating a healthy home, with an optional healthy home assessment, and a session on creating natural household cleaners on a budget.
The exercise for life section looked at the growing New Zealand epidemic of obesity and associated health issues. Safe, accessible and enjoyable exercises were introduced. These have been developed to fit in with lifestyles and family life. Activities included gardening, walking, yoga and Pacific zumba.
Participants learned to grow their own food, build a community garden and home gardens at no cost. They also learned to cook, with guidance from a dietician to prepare healthy meals, non-expensive meals. Upper Hutt parish now has two community gardens.
Many of the participants were Pacific Island people. The parish hopes the programme will lead to improved wellbeing in terms of lifestyles changes, including healthy and sustainable food choices, empowerment to manage homes more efficiently, saving money and creating a healthier environments for families.
Many friendships began during the programme.
St Joseph’s parish priest Fr Ron Bennett said the programme was an opportunity to take “time out”, for people to evaluate how they are living and make changes if necessary, activating hidden resources.
“People can tend to be weather-beaten, almost feel trapped like a mouse on a revolving wheel. There is no time to think or to do thing other than what they are doing,” he said.
The programme involved “looking after the whole person — body, living conditions, feeding, rest and fun — so that the whole person was nourished”.
It also involved relationships and friendships, with people supporting and mentoring each other, he said.