To coincide with International Women’s Day, Winn Army Community Hospital’s Department of Preventative Medicine held a women’s and teens Lunch and Learn health event March 8 at the Fort Stewart Youth Center. On a day set aside to celebrate women, the event offered women and girls the opportunity to educate themselves on important health topics and learn about self-defense and meditation.
“This is the first time that this type of event has been held,” Army Public Health Nursing event coordinator Juana Henderson said. With March 8 being International Women’s Day and March 10 being Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, she said the department wanted to hold an overall female-centered health day that tackled important topics but didn’t scare people off. Organizers created a lunchtime function to draw participants during their midday breaks.
“We have a lot of information on women’s bodies and cycles and other topics that can be can hard to address or have a class on,” Henderson said. “We want girls to be able to know what is going on with their bodies — what is good, what is bad and how to protect their body.”
Several community agencies set up booths and laid out information so participants could stroll through at their own pace, peruse the data available and talk with subject-matter experts who staffed the exhibits.
The event also featured several interactive activities, including a self-defense demonstration and informational talks. Bennie White, an instructor with Acelpius Fit, who has decades of training in martial arts and self-defense techniques, led the demonstration, which included audience participation.
“Always be aware of your surroundings, don’t take anything for granted,” White said. He stressed that awareness is key in preventing an attack in unfamiliar surroundings. Incidents often can be avoided by loudly calling attention to strangers who come too close, he added.
“If someone you don’t know approaches you, don’t be afraid to get loud. Shout, ‘I don’t know you — stay back!’ Many times, that will throw off a would-be attacker and scare them off,” he said.
White also cautioned attendees to avoid screaming “rape” if they are attacked because people tend to ignore such cries. Instead, he suggests shouting, “Fire!” which usually will get people to respond.
White invited all the participants to join him as he demonstrated various arm movements that can be used to ward off attackers from multiple angles.
Following the self-defense demonstration, Dr. Helen Prana from Winn ACH Care Provider Support spoke about balance and meditation. Prana specializes in developing self-care plans and works with other doctors at the hospital to help patients build resiliency, combat stress and take care of themselves while taking care of others.
“Being off-balance can leave you vulnerable to attack,” she said.
She demonstrated a “horse stance” balance technique, which, she said, is helpful in the event of an attack. The balance technique helps to center the body, making it more difficult to be knocked or pulled to the ground.
She then transitioned into meditation exercises, which can come in handy when someone is anxious, can’t sleep or needs to relax.
“If you have control of your mind and can slow it down, you can move forward in a positive direction,” she said.
Prana handed out black Biodot Skin Thermometers to group and instructed them to place the dots on their hands between their thumbs and index fingers. She then led the group in a relaxation-and-breathing exercise. Upon completion of the exercise, many participants said they felt calmer and noticed their dots had turned bright green or blue, which supposedly is an indicator of a more relaxed mood.
Afterward, participants checked out booths from agencies such as ACS Victim Advocacy Program, Winn ACH Pediatrics and Army Public Health Nursing, which provided information on a variety of topics, including healthy eating, sexual health, teen dating, noise- and concussion-safety and more.
The Army Education Center’s exhibit promoted secondary-education programs.
“Many times we see military spouses who feel that they cannot have a career due to the military lifestyle. That’s why we invited the ed center — so that they can show that there are always options out there for them,” Henderson said.
Several mothers brought their daughters to the event. Latasha Trotter, a Fort Stewart resident, brought out her two girls because she said it was a great opportunity to educate them on important health issues.
“I wanted the chance to help teach them about these issues. I don’t want them learning this stuff from their friends,” she said.
Trotter said she found all of the resources and materials very useful and she hopes to see more health-outreach events for women in the future.