Eat Smart. Move More. This was the common theme shared at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital’s El Dorado Working on Wellness (E-WOW) Celebration breakfast Tuesday morning. Staff members from SBA and the El Dorado YMCA celebrated the accomplishments of participants from USD 490 Jefferson, Lincoln and Grandview Elementary schools as they completed the rigorous four-month program designed to encourage wellness in the local community.

E-WOW, funded by the Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Foundation, is a wellness initiative focusing on bringing education and resources to improve overall health and wellness to those in the community and, with these particular E-WOW groups, the opportunity to bring new ideas to their schools and classrooms.

“Get up and move – we have to teach them that this is the standard,” encouraged Linda Johnson, Guidance Counselor at Grandview Elementary and E-WOW participant. “Having healthy habits isn’t a ‘new’ standard, it is ‘the’ standard.”

While the overall goal was to promote and encourage new ideas for the classroom, the participants received so much more.

“I was always a person to exercise on my own, it was always my alone time. I never knew the power of a group,” said Wendy Goldsmith, Music Teacher and participant. “We went through a lot together, encouraging each other, not only through our workouts but also in situations in our personal lives.”

“The program was a complete success for these groups,” Pam Cartwright, Susan B. Allen Director of Community Services, excitedly told the group.

Statistics provided by the hospital showed that 85 percent of participants had a decrease in blood pressure, 80 percent showed a decrease in glucose levels, there was a 35 percent decrease in cholesterol levels and 50 percent had a decrease in waist measurements.

“My encouragement for you,” Dr. Paige Dodson, SBA Chief Medical Officer, stated, “is don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do everything that you just learned. This was an intensive program, meant to fit a lot of material in a short amount of time. Find that one thing that you were successful at and stick with it.”

Tim Connell, whose mother Mary K Connell inspired the wellness initiative, encouraged the participants to share their experience and newly learned skills with others. “Tell your family,” he said. “Show your students. Make a change for the future.”

Susan Holthaus, Principle at Grandview Elementary and E-WOW participant, was grateful for the supportive community network that made programs, like E-WOW, possible. “The investment that this will have in our children will be lifelong,” she said. “We are excited to implement some of these methods in our classrooms with our students.”