In June 2015, We opened our Wellness Institute to address the high rates of obesity and chronic illnesses in our community — particularly among our pediatric patients. It includes a full service Fitness Club and a small community garden located on city-owned property adjacent to our facility. Whittier has added innovative lifestyle-change and support opportunities to all of our programs. We are actively working to educate, empower and engage our neighborhoods in healthy living and promote a culture of wellness.
Patients are referred through Whittier’s Prescription for Health program by their physician, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist or other service provider and are supported by case managers and a health coach to meet their self-management goals. Information about patient’s programs are transmitted via Whittier’s electronic medical records. The Wellness Institute works together with Medical and Behavioral Health providers to aid patients and community residents in changing their lifestyles and behaviors.
Located on the first floor of our Tremont Street building, Whittier’s Fitness Center is open to everyone — patients, community residents, and health center employees. It boasts more than 6,000 square feet dedicated to health, wellness, and fitness containing treadmills, elliptical equipment, weight machines, free weights, fitness bikes, and a room for classes including Zumba, yoga, and aerobics.
Part of our Wellness Institute, Fitness Center Programs include individual fitness training, nutrition counseling, exercise classes, and stress reduction activities as well as sessions with a Life Coach. The club’s offerings are based on our “Prescription For Health” that enables each patient to establish and meet their own goals and manage their conditions.
Race Around Roxbury (RAR)
An after school nutrition and exercise program for patients referred by their care team, RAR serves young people ages 6-14 years old who meet clinical standards for obesity (BMIs of 85% or higher). The program runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 pm and every session includes a 45 minute fun physical activity.
On Tuesdays, participants have a nutritious snack and engage in a nutrition class. After the nutrition classes, girls participate in a program called Girls’ LEAP (Lifetime Empowerment and Awareness Program), a self-defense training and safety awareness program for middle school females. On Thursdays, patients participate in a cooking class led by the nutritionist and learn how to make a healthy meal or snack. Participants take home recipes to share with their families. This program equips young people and their families with the information, skills and motivation to develop life-long healthy nutrition and exercise habits.
We use city-owned land next to our building as a community garden. In addition to providing the neighborhood with much-needed fresh produce, it also engages patients and community residents of all ages in learning about the benefits of eating fresh produce.
The garden also provides our nutritionists with opportunities to demonstrate planning and preparation of delicious, seasonal meals that will help patients, particularly patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease develop healthy habits that will help them to meet their wellness goals.
During the summer, students in our Summer Enrichment Program use the garden as a learning laboratory and explore a variety of topics including nutrition, cooking, and ecology.