Nenana Wellness Coalition
February 2, 2016
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate, masticate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had 16 participants today: Jessica Durtsche, Bonnie Reed, Kat McElroy, David Poppe, Ed Herrgard, Mary Alexander, Harriet Borst, Evelyn Verhagan, Kristi & Clara Doogan, Virginia Young, Jeannie Bennett, Amie, James & Kenneth Verhagan and Tim Horn.
We enjoyed hearty pork stew with bread and butter, two kinds of kimchee and pickled purple cabbage for lunch.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson: Jeannie Bennett
SPIRITUAL MOMENT: was led by Kristi, with a short pray.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no items added to the agenda.
MINUTES: Minutes were posted at the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and after multiple attempts submitted electronically to the WIN e-list, with no corrections.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: No new guests today.
Miricle Gro For The Brain—the Science Behind Exercise and Learning: Amie Verhagen began her presentation by introducing us to a book, Spark—The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, a Harvard psychiatrist who subspecializes in the clinical use of exercise in mental diseases. In Spark he examines clinical and lab research in neuro-hormones, the chemical soup that determines how well our brain works. He believes that our culture and its conveniences have made it difficult to get enough physical activity. We now have to work at it. High intensity exercise increases neural readiness, enriches the microenvironment of the brain and actually promotes development of new brain cells.
Amie began by telling about the experiences of the Naperville School District in Illinois which redesigned its P.E. system, utilizing what they termed Zero Hour PE, before classes started in the mornings. All students participated in P.E. classes; the only games played are ones with high levels of sweat with an emphasis on participation, not competition. Students are taught to encourage and support each other. The results were dramatic: an increase in test scores and a decrease in obesity. In an international study of 230,000 students, those from Naperville were sixth in math (first in the U.S.A.) and first in science, ahead of Singapore, China, Korea and Japan. To confirm that the fitness program is key a study compared test results after P.E. class with results several hours later. Scores were much higher right after the fitness class. Vigorous exercise makes your brain work much better especially right after the exercise, but also in the longer term. Research shows that vigorous exercise literally increases production of neuro-chemicals: dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. At the same time, it encourages neural development, increasing the brain’s receptor cells. In Naperville, they explained it this way: “We (the PE department) create the brain cells; it is up to the other teachers then to fill them.”
While Naperville is an upper middle class community where many parents are scientists or engineers, Titusville, Pennsylvania is not. It is a failed factory town north of Pittsburgh where they copied the Naperville P.E. program beginning in 2000. Their test scores went from below state average to 18 percent above, replicating the results experienced in Naperville, indicating this was not just a matter of socio-economic advantage. These findings make a good case for schools to increase the daily levels of physical activity of all students at a time when many school are cutting recess and physical education as a cost-saving measure and/or to make time for teaching to the test. Schools under the California Department of Education showed significant increases in tests scores, even normed for socio-economic factors, which indicates that schools incorporating régimes of intensive exercise will ultimately create graduates better prepared to break cycles of poverty and to succeed socially as well as academically.
Amie described something called “Time-In’s” as opposed to Time Out’s, having teachers or care-givers provide opportunities for kids to get five minute bouts of intense exercise as opposed to consequence-ing by with-holding recess or PE or sports participation for misbehavior or poor academic performance. “The more fit a child is, the better a learner they will be,” Amie said “Let’s get our kids moving.” She acknowledged that it requires a paradigm shift to see exercise as priming the brain to learn, but would encourage us to make efforts to get our school to adopt these findings. For Amie it isn’t a matter of practicing physical exercise for weight loss, disease prevention, or even for physical health. The research is plain, she says, regular vigorous exercise is also important for mental and emotional well-being.
Nenana Health Fair: The 10th annual Health Fair will be held April 2, at the Civic Center. Blood draws will be provided from 8 AM-Noon and exhibits will be available from 9 AM-1PM. Letters to venders and requesting donations are going out, solicitations for donations for door prizes. They are trying to find someone to lead native dancing and singing as an activity as that was well-received last time we did this. Tim will put a head’s up on the Nenana Community Facebook page as we get nearer to the event.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: “Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is everything where power moves.” –Black Elk (Hehaka sapa), OGLALA SIOUX
My Creator, teach me the seasons of growth.
Mary: She, Wes and Blaze went down to Tok for a hockey tournament. It was all little guys playing. They had fun.
Harriett: They had game night last night, every Monday at 6:30 PM. Jim again brought students from the Living Center. They brought a big bowl of parmesan popcorn and everyone had a good time.
Ed: Plugging along with life. Brainstorming activities to do with the kids. Wonders about a musical get together.
Kristi: They just completed the Preparation Week for their latest Health Challenge. They have 14 participants this time, four men, ten women. They are launching their new web site so anticipating some glitches.
Kat: There is a meeting tonight, 5:30 PM, at the City Office, to certify the election. We need three citizens who are registered voters there for this process.
Bonnie: There is a Nutrition/Exercise class Friday, February 4, 6:30-7:30 PM, at the Nenana City Library.
Next basketball home game against Tri-Valley February 9th. Nenana Invitational Tournament will be February 4th-6th at the school.
Virginia: Brice is having a community meeting for an update on the road across the river at the tribal hall tonight at 5:30PM.
Tim: Yoga at Meda Lord on Wednesdays, 10 AM and Nancy Jones brings her guitar and the have soup and hymns every Wednesday evening, 5:30 PM, open to all.
The Nenana Book Club is reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexi.
Jeannie: Had a nice time at the women’s retreat. She and Bob bought a new SUV, a maroon Yukon, and now no one recognizes her when she drives by so no one waves.
Jessica: Glad to be able to be here. No client in Healy today. She is busy with work. Busy with school, working on her Master’s Degree in Rural development, a huge undertaking.
ADJOURNMENT: 1:50 PM