At the end of July, I got to spend a week in the beautiful state of New Mexico working with the people of the Navajo Nation. I was able to take part in this experience through the University of Findlay of Findlay, OH. I am a current student in their weekend bridge program for PTAs to complete their DPT. This schooling experience has been exciting, exhausting and life changing. Being in this program has given me multiple opportunities to give back to the PT community and my profession.
During the week I spent with the Navajo Nation, my classmates and fellow health care providers, we ran a health and wellness camp for the elders and children. We provided education for them about oral health, nutrition, self esteem and self being as well as educating them about importance of physical activity. The Navajo Nation resides in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, making it the largest Native American Reservation in the U.S. with over 173,000 living on the reservation. The culture is rich in family bonds and their faith.
The wellness camp that was held for a week was able to educate them on the importance of a healthy diet and proper nutrition to help prevent diabetes. As well as ways to help maintain proper fitness levels by simply taking a 30 minute walk each day to help improve the cardiovascular system. These tips are helpful for everyone. We should all be more aware of what we are consuming in our diet and make sure we have a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy on our plates.
The children that attended the camp completed various crafts that correlated with the day’s theme. They completed an inch worm that represented them growing as they ate nutritious foods. They made butterflies that showed that each of them were unique and beautiful in their own way. It is important for every child to know that they are each unique and have a purpose in life. Each day the children also participated in a physical activity. Some of the games we played with them varied from basketball, Frisbee, football and duck, duck, goose. It is important for all kids to get out and play. Getting outside gets their cardiovascular system going and challenges their gross motor skills.
I am thankful to the people of the Navajo Nation for letting us in and allowing us to share a week full of education, fun and faith. I can only hope that they learned as much from us, as we learned from them. They have reminded me of how important family is and to be thankful for every opportunity we are given.