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Planting the Seeds of Healthy Living

Two new youth-focused programs aiming at good nutrition, reproductive health

The is offering two new youth-focused programs that are already making a difference in the community.

A unique collaboration between Petaluma Health Center and , funded by a $10,000 grant aims to get youth and their families to  and incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. 

The hope is that by spending time at the Petaluma Bounty farm on Shasta Avenue, participants will have a better understanding of healthy food’s seed-to-table journey.

Eight-year-old Wynter Dean walked around the Bounty Farm recently clutching a just-picked onion. She’s enthusiastic about what she’s learned so far.

“I like it because it’s helping me to lose weight. I’m eating healthy foods. The second reason I like this program is it’s changed my life so I can have a healthier life in the future,” said Dean, who visited the farm with her mother, two sisters and brother.

Her favorite fruit is apple and favorite vegetable is green pepper, and she’s developed an appreciation for jicama, a vegetable that is new to her. Each week, the Wynter family takes home a box of vegetables from the farm.

“She enjoys the program and is getting extra exercise,” said Sabrina Dean, Wynter’s mother. “She’s keeping track of her food portions and it’s motivating the whole family. I always cooked a lot of vegetables, but she’s eating more of them now.”

Petaluma Health Center physician assistant and public health specialist Kyla Simpson launched the Petaluma Loves Active Youth (PLAY) group last year to address childhood obesity. 

Youngsters participating in PLAY were selected based on a body mass index above the 85th percentile. Parents of PLAY participants are required to attend weekly sessions with their children and be involved in behavioral change goal setting. 

The new pilot program is set up so PLAY children and their families spend the first six weeks at PHC’s new Center for Healthy Living doing movement and exercise activities, learning who to make healthy food selections and participating in cooking demonstrations.

During the next six weeks, they will go with their families to the Community Farm to pick up a "Bounty Box" of produce and to do educational activities with Petaluma Bounty garden educator Patty Sherwood.

At the start of the program, Simpson and PHC physician Joseph Eichenseher gave children a food and exercise survey and recorded detailed health information about each participant. They will be tracking data to gauge whether the youth have modified their eating and exercise behaviors and and/or lost weight, with periodic check-ups at six weeks, three months and one year later.

Petaluma Health Center Clinic Services at Junior College Campus

Students returning to class at will have the opportunity to receive expanded services at a new reproductive health clinic.

The collaborative program launched this fall at Student Health Services, and any student can make an appointment to be seen on Tuesdays between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Confidential and free services will be offered throughout the semester for students under California’s Family PACT program, which provides no-cost family planning services to low-income men and women, including teens.

Student Health Services already offers limited health services for students who pay a $17 health fee when registering for classes. Services include medical care for acute illnesses and injuries including pregnancy testing, emergency contraception, urinary and respiratory tract infections, rashes, immunizations and more. Services provided also include short-term mental health care, health education events, workshops, seminars and classroom presentations.

Grace Hochstoeger, a family nurse practitioner with Petaluma Health Center, will be on the Petaluma campus to see SRJC students during clinic hours.

“If there is high demand on the Petaluma campus we can open up another day for the reproductive health clinic. We have other providers at Petaluma Health Center who can come over to SRJC,” said Hochstoeger. 

Established in 1993, The Petaluma Health Center is located at 1179 North McDowell Blvd. and provides quality health care with access for all in Southern Sonoma County.

Tom Joynt September 02, 2011 at 02:13 PM
I have often looked at the acres of turf around the Kaiser facility in Petaluma and thought, "What a great place for a garden!" There are liability and logistic issue for certain - pumping water onto turf that then gets mowed , is not a good use of resources.

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