Humboldt Park Residents Adopt Healthy Habits and Gain "A Taste of Wellness"

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness June 05, 2012

Northwestern Medicine's Community Engagement Initiative at YMCAJulia Sanders had suffered from elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure for many years. But during a recent appointment with her doctor, the former nurse technician and grandmother of seven learned that her numbers were finally within the normal range. “At last,” thought Sanders, who had recently signed up for a wellness program in her community. As part of the Northwestern Medicine® Community Engagement Initiative, Sanders participated in an advanced cooking class titled “A Taste of Wellness in West Humboldt Park” at the Kelly Hall YMCA, which offered nutrition lessons, fitness activities and a cooking demonstration weekly. Sanders and 14 other members of her community recently “graduated” after finishing their last class on May 17. “Seeing a positive change in my health was the perfect gift,” said Sanders.

Northwestern Medicine’s Community Engagement Initiative works to improve access to quality care and health education in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The program was established in partnership with the West Humboldt Park Development Council, Near North Health Service CorporationErie Family Health and the Kelly Hall YMCA. Through cooking and wellness classes, exercise programs, free health screenings and educational events, Northwestern has contributed more than $500,000 over the past year to support broad-based health initiatives in Humboldt Park.

“I’m so happy I had the opportunity to be a part of this program,” said Sanders. “Now, I’m eating less meat and more vegetables, exercising four times a week and preparing healthier meals for my family and friends at church.”

“The Community Engagement Initiative is a shining example of Northwestern’s longstanding commitment to the community,” said Posh Charles, director, external affairs at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “We are proud to collaborate with valuable community organizations to help residents across Chicago progress towards better health.”

Class attendees are now more conscious of what they are eating, reading labels at grocery stores carefully and their overall clinical metrics have improved significantly. According to Sanders, the program not only positively impacted the lives of the participants, but others as well.

“This class has not only changed my life, but my family’s, friends’ and community’s too,” said Sanders. “If each one of us teaches another person what we’ve learned, we will continue to make strides towards a healthier community and change lives.”

A new series of wellness classes will begin Monday, July 2 and will run for six weeks. Residents who are interested in participating can call 773.886.1220 for more information or to register. Northwestern will also be holding free blood pressure, diabetes and weight and height screenings during the Humboldt Park Farmers Market throughout the summer. Learn more about these events and other community outreach initiatives offered through Northwestern, contact Community Services at 312.926.7147.

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