Wellness Week in the Americas, Sept. 12-19, will focus on "Healthy Parks, Healthy People"

14 Sep 2015

Health advocates throughout the hemisphere are organizing wellness events ranging from health fairs to environmental clean-ups

Washington, D.C., 12 September 2015 (PAHO/WHO) - For the fifth consecutive year, member countries of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) will celebrate Wellness Week in the Americas on Sept. 12 through 19. The theme for this year's initiative is "Healthy Parks, Healthy People."

The annual week-long celebration seeks to engage individuals, families, and communities in healthy, active lifestyles and advocates for public policies that favor healthy environments.

"Wellness Week is a great time to celebrate the ways that healthy, active living make us feel better every day and throughout our lives," said Dr. Luiz Augusto Galvão, director of PAHO/WHO's Sustainable Development and Health Equity program. "It's also an opportunity to spread the message that we need public policies to ensure people are living in health-promoting environments, with recreational opportunities, access to nature, and also access to healthy foods."

Health ministries, civil society organizations and other health advocates in PAHO/WHO member countries throughout the Region are planning Wellness Week activities that range from community health fairs to educational events and nature walks. Among plans for this year's celebration are:

  • In Panama, activities organized by EcoClubs in schools and communities focused on healthy environments, natural foods, and physical activity.
  • In Mexico, a "healthy environment" campaign to mobilize residents of Mexicali, Baja California, to collect and properly dispose of discarded tires.
  • In the Bahamas, a "Health and Wellness Explosion" with free health screening, yoga and martial arts demonstrations, and chefs and nutritionists showing how to prepare tasty, healthy meals.
  • In Argentina, a food safety event sponsored by the Santa Fe Food Safety Agency (for the fourth consecutive year).
  • In Guyana, the launch of a new National Noncommunicable Diseases Commission that will coordinate cross-sector efforts to reduce tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy eating and physical inactivity.
  • In Colombia, a special event on prevention of adolescent pregnancy targeting 18,000 university students, with educational games related to sexual and reproductive health.

In Washington, D.C., the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has joined PAHO/WHO in organizing a "Healthy Parks, Healthy People" celebration on the National Mall. It includes tai chi and yoga classes, "boot camp" workouts, cooking demonstrations, and live music and dancing. PAHO/WHO and NPS also plan to sign a new collaborative agreement during Wellness Week to promote access for people of all socioeconomic levels and all ages to nature, especially parks.

"This year's theme focuses on the ways that being active outdoors and in contact with nature can enhance both mental and physical health," said Galvão. "People who participate in Wellness Week can help spread the message that being outdoors can be fun as well as good for your health."

Wellness Week in the Americas, launched in 2011, was originally inspired by Caribbean Wellness Day, an initiative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that is celebrated each year on the second Saturday in September.