The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in collaboration with AARP Montana and other community partners, have joined forces to host the annual Women 4 Wellness health fair on Thursday, May 18, at 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Joe McDonald Event Center on the Salish Kootenai College campus.
The greatly-anticipated and much-appreciated event draws thousands of women from across the region. While the focus is on women and Native American health issues, the fair is free and open to all, including men.
The project originally started nine years ago with the help of a federal grant from the Office on Women’s Health to provide free health screenings, help educate women and men on health issues, and allow them to act as their own health advocates. Although the grant funding has run out, the community has stepped up to keep the event going.
The program’s goal is to help women and men become involved in their health care and to help them take the steps necessary to live healthy lives. Many of those who attend to get the free screenings say they couldn’t afford to get them otherwise and would, in all likelihood, forego them without the Women 4 Wellness event.
There are about 32 different free healthcare screens offered this year by several area healthcare providers. Breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease and thyroid problems are the tests that most often come back positive.
According to event organizers, throughout the years at the Women 4 Wellness fair, folks had screenings that alerted them to problems that needed the immediate attention of a physician. In fact, there have been many instances where people came in for the screenings and had to be sent to directly the hospital for immediate care. The event has been credited with saving lives and averting serious health consequences as a result of early detection due to screenings.
In addition to early disease detection, the screenings help people understand the importance of prevention and wellness care.
This year, AARP Montana and St. Luke Community Healthcare will hold cooking demonstrations showing people how to make healthy green smoothies from ingredients found on the Commodity Supplemental Food Program list. Free smoothies and recipes will be given away as part of the demonstrations.
“Getting screenings and finding treatment is an important tool for reducing disease in the community. The success of this program is due to the dedicated staff at the Center for Prevention and Wellness, Salish Kootenai Tribal Health, four Montana hospitals, and many community partners and volunteers,” said AARP Montana State Director Tim Summers. “AARP Montana is grateful for the opportunity to join forces with our community partners to bring this life-changing event to folks across the region.”
Preregistration is recommended but not required by going to http://prevention.skc.edu/w4w/.