Striding towards good health

By Rhonda Cooper

The recently-expanded STRIDES program that enhances the quality of life for people with chronic health issues is racking up the miles.

Following the group’s regular Dec. 7 workout with exercise therapist Brendan Pikaluk, the formal launch of the program took place.

“When we first started in June 2010 we had to restrict participants to those who had a mild risk for chronic cardiac conditions,” said Prairie North’s vice president of Primary Health Services Glynns Uzelman. “Once we engaged the services of an exercise therapist, we could expand the program.”

Uzelman explained STRIDES incorporates a number of health professionals such as nurses, dieticians, mental health workers, therapists such as a respiratory therapist as well as many others.

“It is a full team effort,” she noted. The addition of Pikaluk meant the program no longer required doctor referrals. Participants could self-refer to the program or be introduced or referred by those already taking part.

“Self-referral has a two-fold advantage, especially here in Meadow Lake,” said Uzelman. “With the high demand on doctors the self-referral means those who wish to participate are not taking an appointment simply for a referral.”

A key component of the program is Meadow Lake’s Debra Baldinus, who is the Chronic Disease Clinical Nurse Educator.

“I’ve been a nurse for 31 years and there is an absolute need for the program,” Baldinus said. “Since the new program has been implemented our numbers have really increased and they are steadily growing.”

Georgina McKay has been with the STRIDES program since its inception in june 2010. Where once she could barely walk on her own. McKay is now standing upright and walking one to two miles during the exercise sessions.

The program operates on a 12-week schedule with three days dedicated to exercise and one day focussing on educating participants about topics such as fall prevention, healthy eating habits and a variety of other subjects.

Georgina McKay has been a participant since the program’s inception 18 months ago.

“When I started I could barely walk,” she said. “I could go maybe half a block to one block and I was very slow. Now I can walk on my own and do one mile, two if I’m lucky.”

Contributing to the success of the program is the partnership between STRIDES and the Alliance Church and the support of volunteers. One of the first volunteers to step forward was Joan Lennea who has been there since its inception,

“I love people. This group has become my gym family.”

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