by LAURA HAYES
Looking for a way to reignite your resolution for the new year? Or seeking new ways to be healthy and stay active? Winona Health is hosting a day filled with healthy eating tips and recipes, fun ways to get exercise, and seminars addressing physical and mental health.
On February 25 the hospital and several other community groups will gather at Winona Middle School (WMS) to lead the annual “Way to Wellness Expo.” Winona Health’s Community Relations Coordinator Nicole Schossow said, “If you have been thinking about changing anything, improving anything, or if I should try this or that, we are here to help.”
The expo, she said, is perfect for people wanting to make new resolutions for the year or those just interested in learning more about health and wellness. Originally, the event began as Winona Health’s diabetes expo. A couple years ago, Winona Health staff decided that the information provided at the diabetes expo — nutrition, active living, and mental health — was beneficial to everyone. “What we decided is that Way to Wellness is about motivation and education to make healthy choices for yourself,” Schossow said.
While Winona Health has hosted several health-related expos in the past, in an effort to keep the expo alive, the hospital has partnered with Live Well Winona, Minnesota State College Southeast, Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS), the Winona Area Lions Club, and the Winona Family YMCA.
Schossow and her committee have made several changes to this expo compared to last year. A majority of the seminars will be offered twice during the day — once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Hy-Vee will park a bus outside the school where dietician Jennifer Holden will give advice on healthy lunch options. Winona County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) will have a box where people can drop off their expired medicine.
ASAP staff will also have an event called “Hidden in Plain Sight” in the back of WMS’ Learning Commons. According to Schossow, ASAP staff will set up the room to look like a typical teenager's bedroom. In the room, staff will place several pieces of drug paraphernalia. The activity is designed to teach parents how to identify potential pieces of drug paraphernalia, Schossow said. Additionally, staff members will give advice for parents about what behaviors or signs of drug use they can look for.
Also, for the first time, several fitness classes will be offered during the expo — high-impact cardio classes; barre — which blends elements of ballet, yoga, and pilates; yoga; boot camp — a combination of strength, cardio, muscle endurance, flexibility, and core training; cycling; and water aerobics. Schossow said that one purpose of the expo is to expose community members to new things, including new ways to get active. Compared to other fitness classes where Schossow said that people may be reluctant to try something new out of a fear of embarrassment, everyone is new to the fitness classes.
Last year, several attendees told Schossow that it was hard to select what seminars to attend. To help make the choice easier, they decided to offer most seminars twice during the day. Seminars range from how to deal with stress and anxiety, music therapy, and even a cooking lesson on how to make different types of stir fry. “We have something for everyone,” she said.
Similar to other expos, the Way to Wellness Expo will have several vendors set up in the concourse. However, the vendors’ goal is not to sell products, but educate and motivate attendees. WAPS Nutrition Director Jennifer Walters has been a familiar face at past expos, providing information on school lunches and directing parents to online menus and nutrition analysis.
“I think it’s a great place to find what’s in our community in terms of health and wellness,” Walters said.
While all ages are welcome to the expo, YMCA staff will provide free childcare for parents for children who are potty-trained and older. Additionally, working with city staff, an express bus route will run that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Maplewood Townhomes and Lake Village trailer park to the middle school.
The event is free to attend and will take place on February 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at WMS.