The Way I See it: Growing a healthy community

Michele Blais explores a variety of ideas for ensuring the health of Vernon and both its residents and visitors

I love the domino effect of ideas being generated and a recent story in The Morning Star about Predator Ridge and the tourism brochure led to thinking about Sparkling Hill and what a great place that is as well, which led to Vernon becoming known as a health centre.

That leads to numerous discussions about how we have so many great healthy services and outdoor recreation areas, hotels, etc. and we could link them together into packages for visitors seeking healthy tourism events.

These include the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy, naturopathic physicians, day spas, massage therapists, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, nutritionists and numerous other alternative health services. Add to this our bountiful agriculture industry from the organic gardens and orchards to the poultry, meat and natural health food stores. We are living in a fabulous natural healthy community.

There is more and more research showing the benefits of alternative health care in complement with traditional health care. So is there a way to package more of these together for visitors and locals to enjoy and learn from?  Sparkling Hill stands on its own or could be in combination with many others, where guests staying at a resort, hotel, motel, B and B could select a package of services for a healthy retreat weekend or week or an entire month.

Included could be the services of spa, alternative medicine, and adding in hikes, walks, in our beautiful parks, swims in our lakes, paddle boarding, kayaking, skiing, snow shoeing and more. Design your own or let someone guide you. Visits to the market, etc. Could just have ideas of how to spend a few healthy days in the North Okanagan with suggestions of visits to farmers markets, spas, hikes, nutritionists, etc. Maybe workshops could be tied in to the settings, throw in some cultural events to feed the soul and we have it all. As you can see ideas flow easily once people get started.

A niece recently visited Boston for her birthday and her special gift was that she bought a 15 km run with a local who explained the city and the history to her as they ran through the city. She has paid for this service in New York and San Francisco as well. I know we have the mural walking tours but I was wondering about adding to it for guided hikes. Of course insurance will be the dark cloud above all of it but I wonder about our local hikers guiding others. Or maybe pointing in the right direction.

Is there an opportunity for some local businesses to enhance their businesses by working together?  Possibly.

This is a great community because of so many super services and our natural beauty. Off topic a bit but another great service is the Okanagan Science Centre. This week I volunteered at the haunted house for one night and had a blast! That spooky house is fabulous and is a very creative fundraiser.

This coming week Sutton Realty is having their “warm and fuzzy” clothing drive and looking for coats, jackets, mitts, scarves, hats, clothing for the cold winter months ahead that will be distributed to local groups through the Gateway Shelter and Howard House. You can do a drive- through drop-off on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the office.

As a community we can become healthier, starting at home. We can challenge ourselves to become healthier, set goals of increased hours of physical activity, weight loss, enjoying 100 mile diets and more.

Connecting into our community by volunteering is part of our overall good health and helps us with our sense of belonging.

All together it will be impressive, start at home, than work, your clubs. And get healthier  for bragging rights, not TV rights. We will all be better for it.

Visit Vernon, the healthiest place to be.

Michele Blais is a Vernon Realtor and a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, writing about a variety of issues and appearing every other Sunday.