Perry Wellness Center values the concept of wellness so much that it includes the word in its organizational name. Total wellness includes physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness, and the center strives to promote improved mental and physical health in the 77 peers who attend its program.
The focus on total wellness is evident in many center activities, including the adoption of the Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) plan to guide service planning.
“When we began our daily contact with peers,” notes CEO and founder Stuart Perry, “We discovered that the physical component was vital. With the WHAM program, we opened another avenue of help for our peer population.
“We must all work together for the best solution to problems for our peers,” Stuart continues. “Our WHAM program advises peers on mental health and substance abuse issues, regular exercise, education and healthy food preparation and consumption.”
For a variety of reasons, individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse problems are subject to increased medical problems and decreased life expectancy. Perry Wellness Center faces this reality through peer education as well as staff vigilance. On a daily basis, staff members, including a registered nurse and medical director, address such common health concerns as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, food allergies, and medication reactions.
Way of addressing health concerns include the following:
- Physical checks and screenings are completed on such health factors as weight and blood pressure, and periodic HIV screenings are offered.
- Diet plans are developed to reduce calories, sodium, red meat, processed foods, and added sugars in daily meals.
- Rudy’s Happy Patch Market offers fresh produce for a diverse community population, including staff and peers. In addition to cash, checks, and credit cards, the market accepts EBT cards. Perry Wellness Center believes that financial status should not be a factor in whether an individual can maintain healthy eating habits. Stuart points out, “The next phase of the total program was finding a way for our peer group to purchase these good and wholesome foods.”
- While the market offers only fresh vegetables and fruits to its customers, an even broader spectrum of food offerings is planned. “Not only do we care for our peer and staff population, we want to share suggestions for a wholesome menu and soon, at-home food preparation,” Stuart says.
- Staff and community speakers provide education in training in health topics ranging from HIV to domestic violence.
- A robust sports and exercise program is offered to peers, with activities ranging from weight training to team basketball.
- Classes are being formed to teach planning of nutritional menus. Peers will receive suggested menus as well as demonstrations of the preparation of healthy but delicious dishes.
“We are striving to do our part at Perry Wellness Center to better the lives of our peers,” Stuart concludes. “We hope the proper food education will be shared in peer families. We work to make positive changes in this and future generations.”
In the above photo, market manager Phyllis Smith welcomes customers to Rudy’s Happy Patch Market.