If the last two and half years have taught people anything, it’s that the overall view of health is becoming a bigger priority.
While CDC statistics documented in March of 2020 showed that nearly 42 percent of adults in America over the age of 20 were categorized as obese, those numbers are feared to have been exacerbated over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic increasingly becoming harder to see in the rearview mirror and restrictions few and far between, local health agencies, such as one in East County, are looking to promote healthier lifestyles.
Summit Pacific Medical Center (SPMC) hosted its annual Peak Health Wellness Fair in Elma on Saturday, Sept. 17. The event, which has a history of taking place at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds, was held at the Summit Pacific Medical Center for the first time since 2019. The last two scheduled fair events were canceled due to pandemic restrictions.
The fair, which was put together by the joint efforts of Cindy Beck, Community Programs Coordinator, as well as Natalie Jensen, Event Coordinator for Summit Pacific Medical Foundation, said the event is a welcoming sign following the two-year hiatus.
“This is a celebration of us in the community and helping the community know all the resources that are available for them to help support their health,” Beck explained. “We love to just showcase what we have here; we love to invite the community into our facility; and this is one way we hope to celebrate them, as well as their health and all the different ways they can achieve better health.”
Beck noted the fair not only helps people who are interested in learning about physical health, but also financial health, mental health, and emotional health among other things. The fair also consisted of family-friendly activities, such as a rock-climbing wall, educational booths, a three-dimensional colon cancer diorama, as well as a bicycle custom designed to make smoothies.
Prior to the four-hour fair was perhaps the most anticipated event of the day — the Peak Health 5K Family Fun Run. According to Jensen, this year’s 5K event, which is in its sixth year, received its largest reception ever as more than 200 people registered online to participate in it, including the cross-country teams from Elma High School and Elma Middle School. The 5K allowed participants to enjoy an easygoing trek throughout Elma before returning to the SPMC campus.
“What having all these people participating in this event is that it tells us that there is a need in the community and there is a desire to get out,” Jensen said.
Jensen pointed out that the attendance of the 5K typically helps determine the overall attendance of the fair. Although she didn’t have exact numbers, Jensen stated that nearly 300 people attended the event based on available merchandise that had been given out throughout the day, such as free bags, individually made meals, and other items free for the public. Although both Beck and Jensen considered this year’s fair to be a giant success, they do believe that more can be done to improve it for the future.
“I think it would be great to rotate the Peak Health fair into the winter months, so the community has something to do when it’s really hard to go outside and perform activities,” Beck said. “Keeping the 5K run this time of year is good, but I’d love to add a 10K to it and get a fitness expo as part of that.”