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Health Promotion class puts theory into practice

Dr. Pritchard stands with the KIN students leading workshops.

Students in the University of Guelph-Humber’s Kinesiology program are getting a chance to put their theories into practice and helping to make the local community healthier. 

By partnering with the nearby Woodbine Family Health Team, a group of eight students and their course instructor, Dr. Janet Pritchard, are holding a series of workshops for people living with type 2 diabetes and hypertension on March 14, 15, 21 and 22.

“A few years ago, the staff at Woodbine (formerly CANES) Family Health Team noticed there was a need for more education around the benefits of physical activity for those with chronic disease. As a result, they contacted us wondering if we would be interested in partnering to educate their patients about physical activity and involve students as workshop facilitators,” Dr. Pritchard says.

Ever since, Dr. Pritchard and her colleague Dr. Sarah Wilkinson, have been organizing groups of students to visit the Family Health Team and deliver the workshops. This year, it’s students from Dr. Pritchard’s class on Health Promotion leading the workshops.

“In my Health Promotion class, I teach the students that changing behaviour can be done by increasing self-efficacy, which is why we teach the patients different exercises with resistance bands,” she says. “We want to show the patients that they can easily incorporate physical activity into their lives — it’s not about buying a gym membership or signing up for a marathon, it’s about making small changes.”

Dr. Pritchard says it’s this philosophy that makes the workshops an effective way to improve the health of the patients.

“That’s what I love about these workshops,” she says. “The students take the theory they’ve learned in class and apply it in a real life setting.”

Equally enthusiastic about the workshops is 2nd-year Kinesiology student Sofiya Yamnyuk. Along with one of her classmates, Sofiya led March 15th’s session and taught the attendees about the health effects of diabetes and hypertension. They worked with the audience to chart out what they already knew about the diseases, and from there showed them how they could better manage their conditions.

“When you’re working with a patient, you’re always looking for a teachable moment,” Sofiya says. “You want to work with them to see how to make better daily decisions that, together, can have a big impact.”

For Sofiya, that meant listening to the attendees, clarifying what they knew and then helping them see how to work the changes into their own lives.

“Current physical health guidelines say that you’re supposed to get 150 minutes of physical activity a week, and a few people were concerned that it sounded like a lot,” she says. “So, after talking about safety precautions, I showed them that if you break it up into 10 minute blocks, it’s much easier to manage.” 

Sofiya is interested in working in health promotion, so the workshops were a chance for her to test out the job.

“It was a great learning experience and I really loved building a rapport with the patients. Besides that, I got to apply what I’m learning,” she says, adding, “I got to see that it makes an impact.”

Learn more about Kinesiology at UofGH.