Staying Healthy Throughout Life Wellness Programs for Students and Seniors

by Julia Barstow

Addressing health and wellness is important throughout life. Through classes and programs, the Central Vermont High School Initiative, Sterling College and the Montpelier Senior Activity Center are focusing on the health and wellness of the people they serve.

Central Vermont High School Initiative. Photo courtesy Marianne Donahue Perchlik

Central Vermont High School Initiative. Photo courtesy Marianne Donahue Perchlik

The Central Vermont High School Initiative

The Central Vermont High School Initiative (CVHSI) is a Waldorf school in its first year and currently serves 10 ninth- grade students and seven 10th-grade students on the campus of Goddard College. Currently the school is working to integrate wellness into other subjects. At CVHSI, students have been doing yoga as part of their anatomy studies and have learned self-massage techniques during music class to warm up and take care of their vocal chords. Students are also learning swing dance and run twice a week. In the future, the president of CVHSI, Marianne Donahue Perchlik, says in addition to integrated health and wellness curriculum, topics such as drugs and alcohol will be specifically addressed in a health class.

Each Thursday, CVHSI hosts a community lunch, often using ingredients donated by local food producers. Crystal Madeira, the chef-owner of Kismet in Montpelier, teaches students how to prepare a meal that takes into account food sensitivities and allergies. Each meal offers gluten-, dairy- and nut-free options, as well as vegetarian dishes. A team of students cooks the meal and another cleans up. While the students learn the basic elements of nutrition, they also learn social health skills. Each week, a guest is invited to the community lunch. Students make conversation and share the meal with their guests around tables they built themselves. Donahue Perchlik says that curriculum surrounding “health and wellness will grow as our school grows.”

Photo courtesy Sterling College.

Photo courtesy Sterling College.

Sterling College

Sterling College is a small liberal arts college located in Craftsbury. It is one of seven work colleges in the nation where all residential students work at least 80 hours each semester. Students have opportunities for exercise through such activities as working on the school farm, running trails and cross-country skiing. Sterling has a Wellness Team on campus, which “ensures a safe, welcoming, and vibrant community by providing direct assistance to students, as well as developing programs that improve the quality of life and learning. ”

Like CVHSI, Sterling College sees mealtimes as important to student’s well-being. Faculty, staff and students eat together at the same tables and talk with each other. In addition to sourcing food locally, the college raises about 20 percent of its own food. This includes vegetables, herbs, rabbits, turkeys and chickens. Director of Communications Christian Feuerstein said of the farm program, “We find that fresh, local food not only contributes to our community’s overall health, but also being part of a living system that supports our entire community enriches our students’ lives immeasurably.” All students work on the farm during their time at Sterling, and the college is working toward becoming a “self-sufficient institution largely feeding itself.”

Photo courtesy Montpelier Senior Activity Center

Photo courtesy Montpelier Senior Activity Center

Montpelier Senior Activity Center

The mission of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center (MSAC) is “to enhance the quality of life for older adults in Montpelier through opportunities that develop physical, mental, cultural, social, and economic well-being in a welcoming, flexible environment.” They accomplish this for their 800 members through the classes, presentations, clinics and meals that are offered at the center.

This session, enrollment for movement classes accounts for a little over half of the 653 total class registrations. MSAC also has partnerships with local fitness facilities, which allow members to take part in swimming, water aerobics, tennis, gym and bowling. MSAC hosts presentations and workshops on a variety of wellness topics, such as fall prevention, diabetes prevention, meditation and nurturing positive relationships. The director of the center, Janna Clar, emphasizes that all MSAC “classes and activities promote wellness because they keep people engaged in lifelong learning, stimulation and socialization.”

Through a partnership with Good Taste Catering and Just Basics, Inc., MSAC offers three meal programs. Feast at Home delivers to eligible seniors and disabled people in Montpelier and Berlin Monday through Friday. Feast Together is served on site every Tuesday and Friday at noon. Feast to Go offers takeout meals for the general public every Thursday. Chef Justin Turcotte prepares the meals, with the help of volunteers. MSAC hopes to expand these health and wellness programs as membership grows.

These organizations are taking an integrative approach to wellness through the programs they offer on nutrition, exercise and education. These efforts demonstrate the growing awareness of the importance of pursuing healthy lifestyles.