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Medical center, foundation dig into Lettuce Days and more
Click here for more stories on Lettuce Days and the activities for the event
When folks plan a vacation or business trip, one stop they hope not to make is at the local emergency room or hospital.
But being on the list of “places to miss” for Yuma visitors doesn't keep Yuma Regional Medical Center from being a big supporter of tourism — and especially events like the annual Lettuce Days festival hosted by Yuma Visitors Bureau, coming up March 9-10.
A longtime member of YVB, YRMC is sponsoring the “Color Your Plate” cooking contest at noon March 10. That will be followed by a cooking demonstration by Jean Myers, a registered dietician who offers “Food for Life” cooking and nutrition classes through the hospital throughout the year, with support from the Foundation of Yuma Regional Medical Center.
“Lettuce Days is a perfect fit for YRMC — it's really the ideal opportunity to share our message of health and wellness with the community,” said Machele Headington, YRMC vice president of communications and marketing. “In Yuma, we are very lucky to live in a place where the resources for a healthy diet are right here, growing all around us.
“We want to help provide the skills and tools for people to take advantage of the wonderful food that's growing all around them and make it part of their daily lives and diets,” Headington said, noting that's why YRMC produced colorful recipe cards to be distributed free at Lettuce Days and thereafter.
“Being involved in events like Lettuce Days helps us to connect with people and better understand and serve our patients.”
Although a healthier lifestyle may begin with what you put on your fork, it doesn't end there. Being physically active is important, too, which is why Lettuce Days also features “Pump It Up” stations throughout the grounds both days of the festival.
Sponsored by the Foundation of YRMC, each “Pump It Up” stop offers a simple way to get going, along with some fun Yuma ag facts: For example, at the “Bumpin' Broccoli” sign, you'll do your best dance move for 10 seconds, while “Leapin' Lettuce” asks that you jump for joy five times. Kids of all ages who complete all five activities and get their programs punched by volunteers will earn a special prize — along with a healthier heart.
Being at Lettuce Days is a natural outgrowth of the foundation's mission, explained executive director Wayne Steffey. “It's a good place to reach out to the community and to encourage kids and families to make being active part of their daily lifestyle.”
The foundation will also have a booth promoting its Y.O.U.T.H. Initiative — with the initials standing for Yumans' Obesity Undermines Their Health — which has provided more than $120,000 in grants to community organizations since 2008 to support activities like “mileage clubs” at five elementary schools and after-school programs from Girl Scouts to youth boxing.
With the mission of supporting a healthy community through philanthropy, the foundation also promotes “5-2-1-Almost None,” which is shorthand for a daily routine of eating five or more fruits and vegetables, logging two hours or less of screen time, enjoying one hour of physical activity and consuming “almost none” of sugary beverages that are not 100 percent fruit juice.
And that message is not just for kids, Steffey stresses, which makes the diverse Lettuce Days crowd a perfect audience. “If we want kids to be healthier, we need parents and grandparents and the whole community to be involved, too. What's good for kids is good for all of us.”
What's good for tourism is also good for the Yuma community and YRMC on all the days that are not Lettuce Days, Headington added.
“Visitors coming to our community are an important pillar of Yuma's economy, so that is something that we want to support all year-round. Having a lot to do and see is also important to us in attracting and retaining physicians and other medical professionals.”
YRMC recruited 18 new doctors in the last year, Headington said, and its recruitment efforts include sharing YVB's Visitors Guide and tours of area attractions with prospective residents.
But that's just part of the “big picture” that keeps YRMC supporting tourism even though it will never be part of anyone's dream itinerary for a Yuma trip, Headington said.
“A community has to grow to be a healthy community. And we see it as part of our mission to be part of creating a positive image of Yuma for residents, for visitors, for all of us.”
Sounds like a good prescription all around.
Ann Walker is a writer for the Yuma Visitors Bureau. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 376-0100.