Community

SUV celebrates a year of healthy influence

Shape Up Vashon (SUV), an organization designed to help Islanders take charge of their health, will celebrate its first year this weekend.

Islander Dr. Kathleen Davis began the group last year, with the help of a small number of other Vashon residents, to provide resources on Vashon intended to make getting and staying healthy easier. Now, the group has more than 200 members, holds frequent walks and hosts monthly classes on a variety of health-related topics, from cooking tips to exercises to do while traveling.

When they launched SUV, organizers hoped to register 200 members by the end of the first year, Davis said, and she is pleased with the group’s progress. “I think we’re doing well,” she said.

SUV has also held two fitness challenges, the most recent of which ended just days ago and included 20 teams — 124 individuals — all committed to walking 10,000 steps a day or doing at least 30 minutes of exercise five days out of seven. The largest of the teams included 27 people at Vashon Community Care, led by Cara Auguilera.

Thanks to a grant from Puget Sound Energy, SUV now also sponsors CPR classes once a month in partnership with Vashon Island Fire & Rescue. These will continue, Davis said, and a weight loss group may form as well. SUV organizers are also open to suggestions and appreciate hearing from members.

“We want (suggestions) to come from the members up,” Davis said.

SUV is also benefitting from an intern this year, Amy Norgaard, a student at Seattle University who is earning her master’s degree in nursing in community and public health. Norgaard has assisted with the latest fitness challenge, Davis said, attends planning meetings and will help with continued outreach efforts as SUV enters its second year.

Looking ahead, Davis said she hopes the organization will continue to grow and extend its influence in the community. She would like to see restaurants list the calories for some of their dishes, grocery stores continue to promote healthy foods and programs that would involve families and schools.

Such community support for healthy lifestyle choices is necessary, Davis stressed.

“For many years as a primary care internist, I felt that one-on-one advising on prevention was important, but not sufficient,” she said. “You really need the support of the community.”

Part of that support will take place at the anniversary celebration this weekend, when Islanders are invited to stop by for information, exercise challenges, a small-bite bake-off and fitness-related demonstrations. There will also be drawings for winners from the recent fitness challenge as well as SUV members overall, with the top prize, a $400 ticket on Southwest Airlines, going to a lucky winner drawn from a pool of members who earned the most SUV stars — acquired through healthy activities — this year.

 

The SUV celebration will meet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday as part of the Holiday Market at McMurray Middle School. Anyone can participate in the activities, including the bake-off. See www.shapeupVashon.org for information and bake-off guidelines.

 

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