When the Health and Wellness team signed up for the first class day of the year, they knew it was no easy feat. Together, they had just nine days to put together a full day of programming that would serve as the benchmark for the rest of the year. The Team, fresh with the overarching LSA 46 message of bringing equity and powerful conversations to the class, knew they had to look at health and wellness differently. The class would together approach health and wellness through the theme of a healthy heart, mind and body, just as the class practiced from Dr. Kara Allen at the opening retreat.

The Health & Wellness Team embarked on a nine-day sprint to reframe what health and wellness mean to the community by planning a day-long excursion that began at UTSA’s Main Campus and ended at Texas A&M University – San Antonio, in the heart of the south side of San Antonio. The two locations served as a physical illustration of how access to athletic and health resources change dramatically as one travels from north San Antonio to the south side.

Then began the powerful conversations.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Claude Jacob gave the class a candid look at the state of San Antonio’s health. He discussed the challenges San Antonio is currently facing, including high rates of obesity and diabetes, and he challenged the class to think about public health differently, beyond food inspections and vaccinations. Metro Health’s five-year plan includes public health approaches to tackling issues like domestic violence, mental health and access to healthy foods.

Local yoga instructor Lisa Stevens led the class through a discussion on resiliency and mindfulness and mindful breathing exercise.

With minds fueled, the class then dove into an introspective health equity exercise. The exercise was intended to help us understand how our own lived experiences contribute to our overall health. The exercise was difficult to process as we all looked at what privileges we have and what challenges innately exist simply because of who we are.

Relaxed and informed, the class traveled from far north San Antonio down to Texas A&M University – San Antonio, where they were greeted by dance team members of the Jaguarettes. Dr. Bryan Bayles and LSA 46’s own Darnell Smith provided a deep dive into health equity. They explored the differences in access to healthy eating and access to athletic fields across our community.

Following a lunch provided by CPS Energy, the class listened to a panel discussion about public health approaches to everyday issues moderated by Texas Public Radio reporter Joey Palacios. The panel included Dr. Jason Rosenfeld of UT Health, San Antonio District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval and CEO of the Center for Health Care Services Jelynne LeBlanc Jamison.

The class was also treated to some good medicine for the heart from poet laureate and scholar Dr. Carmen Tafolla. Through performance and energetic lecture, she shared thoughtful information on the social determinants of health and how some healthy solutions come from old Latinx folklore.

Finally, the American Red Cross provided a CPR training session for the class, which gave each participant the basic skills they need to help someone during an emergency.

The class closed out the day with a social hour at La Gloria, hosted by San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Denise Hernandez, which featured a special guest appearance by San Antonio’s beloved Coyote!

Overall, the class walked away with a stronger heart that embraced powerful conversations, a powerful mind that looked at health issues through an equity lens, and a healthy body that was nourished with gentle yoga and life skills to help their community.

LSA Class 46: Team Health and Wellness

Steering Committee Leads: Yvette Robinson, Charles Houston and Kristal Thomson

Team: Darnell Smith, Kenny Green, Chris Noe, Loretta Kerner, Lee Sinclair, Sonia Moreno Rogers, Charles Woodin and Laura Mayes

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