Tag Archives: Preventive Health

Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Cooking Demo

22 Feb

By Leah Berger-Singer, Preventive Health Coordinator

As you walked through the hallways of the YWCA on February 11th, you might have smelled something that reminded you of your family’s cooking – the smell of garlic and onion sizzling in a pan of olive oil. The delicious smell was coming from the Multipurpose Room where twelve participants from the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program gathered for a Cooking Demonstration led by Cathy Hohenstein, Registered Dietitian for NC Cooperative Extension, and her Intern Clara.

126Before the program began, we chopped and peeled vegetables to prep for the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup that would be served to the group. As participants arrived to the Cooking Demo, they were given handouts on a variety of topics related to soups and chili ranging from ways to soak and cook dried beans to a list of healthy soup toppings. Next, participants were given a sample of both the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup and were even able to try some of those healthy soup toppings, such as Greek yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion.

Cathy explained the health benefits of using soaked beans for soup recipes rather than canned beans (no sodium or preservatives!) and provided different techniques and prep options. Gene Collington, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “I enjoyed it because it shows you what you can do with beans. You can make beans in different ways other than just dried or cooked beans.” Cathy also gave other helpful kitchen tips. Did you know you can make a broth just by boiling vegetables?

127Throughout the Cooking Demo, Cathy showed participants how to make the White Bean Soup step-by-step. Participants were delighted to watch her make something as healthy, fresh and delicious as this soup was. Walter Robertson, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “The structure of the class was very well put together. It was informative, informal, and a relaxed atmosphere. She didn’t rush through it and she explained everything.”

128This Cooking Demonstration is just one example of the various workshops we have in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program. We have workshops such as Grocery Store Tours, Farmers Market Tours, and other Cooking Demos. Participants also have the opportunity to learn something new and health-related in our Weekly Support Group. Don’t just take my word on the program, Walter said, “It’s very beneficial. We get something out of it, and the discussion doesn’t just end after the program”. This is a great example of how Cooking Demos, Support Group, and other workshops provided in the program are learning experiences that start in the YWCA, but they expand outside of our walls and continue into the homes of the participants in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program.

To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at leah.bs@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206 x. 212. 

The YWCA of Asheville’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.


YWCA Awarded SNAP ED Grant – Helping Us Make Even More Rainbows!

30 Nov

058Since 2012 the YWCA has provided healthy meals and snacks from our Rainbow in My Tummy Program for our children in our Child Care, After School, and Drop-In Child Care. Rainbow in My Tummy was created by the Verner Early Learning Center and is a way to help child care centers feed their children healthfully while still adhering to government guidelines. We stick to whole grains, mostly fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and low fat dairy. Almost all of the food that comes out of our kitchen is made from scratch by our stellar kitchen staff every day. Read “A Day in the Life of the Rainbow In My Tummy Kitchen” here.

084Now, we’re proud to announce that we will be running SNAP Ed programming starting this fall, making us the first implementing agency in Western North Carolina! SNAP Ed is a grant designed to get Nutrition and Physical Activity education to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients, as well as the general public.

As part of SNAP Ed our Nutrition Coordinator, Alex Mitchell, will run Color Me Healthy, a nutrition and physical activity curriculum, with our 3-5 year old Child Care students.  Summer Camp students will get to participate in a physical activity curriculum and participate in regular food and nutrition activities as well.  We will also hold events for our parents to learn how to make good nutrition and physical activity choices at home.060

“Nutrition and physical activity education is so important to start early, and SNAP Ed funds will give us the chance to provide these lessons,” says Alex. “I’m personally excited to get to interact with our kids and families more, and to teach information that they will then take out of the YW and into their homes and communities.”

Do you have an idea for what we should call this “snappy” new work at the YW? Email your suggestions to marketing@ywcaofasheville.org!

Latino Mothers are Eager to Improve Their Health Through “Salsa Sabor y Salud”

16 Jul

By Leah Berger-Singer 

If you are a stranger walking into the YWCA’s multipurpose room on Wednesday mornings you may feel as if you are walking into a room full of controlled chaos. However, with twenty children ages 1 through 12 and sixteen of their mothers, Salsa Sabor y Salud (SSS) is a program that has a lot to offer, including the feeling of having the freedom to run about.

Katie Souris, Preventive Health Coordinator, and I are working together to teach Latino families about the importance of eating a nutritious diet and getting daily exercise in both fun and creative ways. This program is free to join, lasts for seven weeks and each session is two hours long. During each session we teach a nutrition lesson in which we do an art activity, play a game and/or have a discussion all related to food. We also provide some sort of physically active game, dance or exercise, such as yoga or zumba.

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On our second week of SSS mothers had already made changes to their daily routine and were happy to share what they had been doing to improve their health. One mother stated: “yo veo videos de youtube cuando quiero hacer ejercicio,” to translate, she watches Youtube videos when she wants to get exercise. Other mothers nodded in agreement that this was a resource they could use to be physically active at home. One mom mentioned that she stopped drinking sodas as well as stopped eating less-healthy foods such as tortillas and other flour-heavy foods. Another woman shared that she was drinking “liquidos verdes” or green smoothies, with garlic, celery, kale, spinach and other veggies.

During our most recent session of SSS, in order to introduce the importance of growing and cooking your own fresh food we read Ruth Krauss’ famous book, La Semilla de Zanahoria, which you may know as The Carrot Seed. We folded origami newspaper planters, and the children filled them with soil and radish seeds.

Every week each one of us learns and teaches something new, creating a friendly, familial atmosphere for Salsa, Sabor y Salud at the YWCA of Asheville.

Having A Support System: Charlton Owens’ Story

30 Jan

The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Charlton Owens at a recent YWCA event.

I’m Charlton Owens, and I’ve worked for the YWCA the past 11 years as a public safety officer. I make sure that our kids, our members, and our staff are safe.Charlton Owens

Around 5 years ago I was having health problems, and my doctor told me that I had diabetes. My blood sugar was over 600 – that’s a level that can lead to stroke, heart attack, total kidney failure, losing limbs.

I was watching TV one day and my eyes just cut off. I couldn’t see for a few hours – it was like turning off a light switch. It was my wife’s first time seeing me so scared… I remember she wiped a tear off my face. This experience gave me a good respect for people who go blind from diabetes. My doctor told me that I should join the Diabetes Wellness program at the YW.

But then my 25 year-old son died in a car accident – he left behind a daughter and an unborn son. A year and 8 months later, my wife passed away from complications due to her diabetes. We had been married 20 years.

I was grieving for my wife and son, but I knew that I had to remember that my other son and two grandkids relied on me. I started going to Diabetes Wellness meetings, and I was totally committed. I got a whole lot more active, especially after I went to the support groups and heard the horror stories from other diabetics in the program.

I would exercise before I went to work. I had to change my whole entire diet and lay off the fatty foods. Now I have a nickname at my local grocery store – “the kale man.” I eliminated sodas. My car stays parked a lot of the time. I’m 64 pounds lighter than I was the same time as last year, and my A1C level is currently 6, which is awesome.

I had a great support system right here at the YW. When you have a great support team it motivates you to get your life back on track. That’s why I go out of my way to tell people about the program, whether I’m on the clock or off the clock.

It just means that much to me because I learned a lot, and it changed my life.

A Snowy But Successful Health Fair!

3 Nov

The YWCA of Asheville hosted a Health Fair in collaboration with Mission Heart Health Services on Saturday, November 1st  from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. It was free and open to the community – and it was a great success, despite the snowy weather!

Visitors were greeted by Alex Mitchell, the YW’s Nutrition Coordinator, whipping up delicious kale smoothies. YW volunteer Ariana Weaver checked to make sure that everyone had pledged to vote in the General Election coming up on November 4.



This wellness event offered glucose (blood sugar), cholesterol and blood pressure checks and BMI evaluation. Health education and screenings were available, including balance, hearing, and vision screening.



WNCAP and the Council on Aging were there to provide information about their organizations.


Pisgah Legal Services educated individuals about the upcoming open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace.


Mission Hospital hosted a low-cost CPR class. The event also included chair massage and other alternative wellness therapies.



Students from UNCA-Asheville’s Health & Wellness program were there presenting their semester projects on topics including sugar content in foods.



In the School Age program area of the YW building, visitors discovered an amazing “farmers market” – with free, fresh fruits and vegetables provided by Gardens United CSA and WhiskeyPigs CSA.




Thank you to all of our participants and guests!

Fiesta Time!

14 Aug

Our Salsa, Sabor y Salud program had its end-of-the-summer Fiesta, where the participating families came together for a potluck meal and celebration of all that they learned during the past 8 weeks.

Esther Garcia, the mother of two girls (a 9 year-old and a 6 month-old), said: “The program was interesting and special. We learned a lot about eating healthfully, and how to be active. Now that the program’s over I’ll remember to dance with all of our family to traditional songs as one way to get exercise.”


Salsa participant Esther Garcia and her daughters

In total 15 families enjoyed the program, with 17 adults and 27 children served.  Each week we focused on a different nutrition and physical activity focus, and often had a guest speaker from a local agency offering bilingual services. For example, Natalie Teague, an immigration lawyer and bilingual yoga teacher, came to talk about the benefits and practice of yoga and lead us in a 30 minute session.  For many of the mothers in Salsa, Sabor y Salud, this was their first experience on a yoga mat and they reported enjoying the physical and mental benefits right away.


Norma Brown with Children First/ Communities In Schools (left), with Beth Maczka, Executive Director of the YWCA

Salsa is a program developed by the National Latino Children’s Institute(NCIL) and facilitated by two certified leaders on-site at the YWCA of Asheville.  The program centers around culturally-relevant activities and discussions that highlight ways that families can make small steps each week towards their wellness goals.


Susan Kettren, Director of Health & Wellness with the YWCA, plays with a Salsa participant

The YWCA offers Salsa completely in Spanish, provides all families with a complete gym and pool membership during the 8 week sessions, and follows up with families with any relevant wellness opportunities.


Katie Souris, Preventive Health Coordinator, hands out certificates to Salsa participants

Here are some more photos of families enjoying the Salsa Fiesta!