During a Monday afternoon nutrition class, two volunteer instructors emphasized, “Today’s lesson is not about extremes, but finding the ‘in-between.’” This guidance on being practical and realistic is what makes “Your Health” such a beneficial class to residents at Calvary Women’s Services.
“Your Health” is being taught at Calvary over the course of eight weeks by a group of nursing students from George Washington University. The topics for each session were selected by women at Calvary, and include issues like hypertension, menopause, osteoporosis, diabetes, proper hand hygiene (important during flu season!) and nutrition.
One GW nursing student said that the volunteers were surprised by some of the topics that women wanted to cover. “Many women said they wanted to know about vitamin D and calcium. That was a big one,” she commented.
During the nutrition-focused class, instructors talked about the importance of a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables. They discussed ways that women could revamp their favorite comfort foods and make them healthier. Everyone – residents and volunteers alike – admitted to a weakness for certain junk foods. One volunteer suggested that “instead of turning to sugar or unhealthy foods when you’re stressed out, try listening to music or going for a walk.”
While depression and anxiety are common among women at Calvary, physical health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and chronic headaches are also prevalent. Experiencing homelessness often results in limited access to health care services and medications that can alleviate these problems. Stress tends to make these health concerns even worse.
Reestablishing good health is a priority at Calvary. Case managers work with clients on making appointments with health care providers, obtaining necessary prescriptions and more. “Your Health” and other classes offered through the Life Skills, Education and Arts Program (LEAP) give women the tools to take personal control of their health.