St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program
Teaching healthy habits from an early age
St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program (HeLP) is designed to help individuals throughout the community live longer, healthier lives. The program focuses on preventive care and health education for young children to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles for the whole person—body, mind and spirit. The St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program team, led by registered nurses, collaborates with other community agencies to provide education to schools and the general public.
Over the years, the St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program has included home visitations, monitoring of the frail and homebound, monthly blood pressure screenings at parishes, as well as the coordination of health fairs.
Addressing emerging public health issues
St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program (HeLP) addresses important health issues in the community. According to a family physician for the University of Michigan Health System, the number of overweight or obese children in the United States has tripled since the 1960s, and up to 70 to 80 percent of these children will continue to be obese as adults. He predicts that this might be the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents because of problems related to overweight and obesity. The St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program has been teaching nutrition and diabetes education in elementary schools since 2005 to encourage youngsters to make healthy lifestyles changes.
As with the rest of the nation, Hawaii suffers from a growing problem of obesity, but St. Francis Healthcare System is countering this trend by intervening with sound health education. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of Hawaii’s population is obese, affecting more minority and low-income populations. Obesity greatly increases the risk of many chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension and the costs associated with treating obesity and obesity-related health problems is expected to continue to rise.
An array of services
St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program (HeLP), teaches the following:
- Healthy lifestyle choices with a focus on nutrition and diabetes to elementary school children in both parochial and public schools.
- Proper hand washing and hygiene to elementary school children to prevent the spread of diseases.
- Promote breast health awareness
- Coordinate blood drives
- Educating senior groups to be proactive in taking control of their health.
The program’s beginnings
St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program (HeLP) originally began as the St. Francis Parish Nurse Program in 1993, bringing health services to parishes and their surrounding communities. The program’s goal was to promote health and wellness with a focus on empowering individuals to take an active role in maintaining their health and in the healing ministry of Christ. The name was later changed to St. Francis Parish Nurse/Community Outreach Program to better reflect its ministry of reaching out to the general community.
The program’s initial emphasis was to assist with establishing parish health ministries so parishioners, those with and without medical backgrounds, were able to reach out to those in need among them. Health Ministry Training was also developed to educate volunteers on topics such as wholistic health, home visitations, healthy lifestyles, death and dying, domestic violence, and child sex abuse. For 10 years, the program also provided a case manager and program manager at a low-moderate income housing complex, Kukui Gardens.
For more information, call the St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles Program at 547-6035.