International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Walking and Wellness Group

The IRC in San Diego’s Health Program recently wrapped up another round of a Walking and Wellness Group, a six week program aimed to equip newly arrived refugee women with the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle in their new community. Nursing students from Point Loma Nazarene University and a nonprofit, Leah’s Pantry, taught the women lessons on nutrition, reading American food labels, lifestyle diseases and preventative healthcare. 

Most of the participants are mothers or grandmothers and were especially interested in learning about popular packaged American foods that their children are beginning to want. “The nutrition classes were my favorite. I really benefited from the nutrition information and I use it in my daily life,” says participant Bashaer Al-Rawi, a mother of three.

Participants also did light physical activity with group walks in San Diego’s finest outdoor attractions. The excursions were an opportunity for the women to explore new places in the city.

Participant Layla Al-Kassyalda who arrived in July of this year says, “I told all of my family and my friends about the places we visited and how much fun we had. I loved everywhere, but especially Balboa Park. I don’t have a car, so I could never have visited it without the program.”

To encourage daily exercise, each woman receives a pedometer to track her steps. Many ladies diligently recorded their progress throughout the six weeks, sometimes hitting an impressive couple miles in a day. Huda Khoshi who arrived as a refugee with her family in March of this year says, “I walk now on Washington Street all the time and sometimes people at laugh at me but I don’t care!”

The group ended last month with a final stroll at Crown Point Park. Many of the participants say they will try to continue to incorporate what they’ve learned into their lives and importantly, their children’s lives. “I have continued my studying after the class by looking on the internet for more about sugar and nutrition information,” says Huda.  “And I’ve shared the information I learned in this class with my friends and family.”

Photo1:  Health lesson taught by Point Loma Nazerene Univerisity Nursing students. Suzanne Slattery/The IRC

Photo 2: Students on a walk. Victoria Haddad-Salah/The IRC

Photo 3:  Student checking pedomenter. Suzanne Slattery/The IRC

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The Walking and Wellness Group is part of the IRC in San Diego Resettlement Department. 

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