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Wesley Nurse Leads Summer Meltdown Challenge in Mason: A focus on fitness and relationships

By Ann Scarth, Wesley Nurse, First United Methodist Church, Mason

AnnScarthThe Summer Meltdown Challenge is underway in Mason, Texas and it seems to be catching on fast. Churches and area organizations have teamed up with instructors from various fitness genres to offer a variety of free exercise classes in locations across this small city of around two thousand people. From tai chi to Zumba, there is a class for every taste and fitness level. Participants are encouraged to track their time exercising using logs provided for the challenge, which are validated by instructors at the completion of each class. The tracking logs will be tallied at the end of the challenge and the top three participants who logged the most hours will win health and wellness prizes. The Summer Meltdown Challenge runs from June 11 to August 15 and will end with a covered dish event to celebrate the successful completion for all participants.

The challenge helps the citizens of Mason to develop a habit of pursuing exercise as a means of improving and/or maintaining optimal health, while fostering relationships with community members. In fact, the challenge was intentionally scheduled during the summer so school district employees would have the opportunity to participate if they wished to do so.

I feel a close connection to community events such as this. Exercise not only improves physical health, but improves mental wellbeing too. Exercise classes offer a psychosocial benefit in that they provide socialization, especially for those who travel into Mason from remote ranches or nearby smaller communities that lack such programs and opportunities to network with people who share their same interests. Similarly, this aligns with MHM’s holistic approach to health—mind, body and spirit.

As long as people are moving, they are actively taking steps toward a better life. Since this challenge began, participants reported feeling a difference in their health and feel a stronger connection to their community. Others, who had drifted out of class, have now returned with a renewed zeal for fitness and commitment to their health.

What inspires me most about being part of this endeavor is the fun that everyone is experiencing—myself included! I believe in exercise and a healthy diet, but strong relationships are also important. We are created for relationships. It’s one of those trickle-down things in life. If meaningful relationships exist, there is more meaning to all the other aspects of life. If someone comes to an exercise class, he or she may not make a lot of changes in looks (we are still going to have gray hair, a few wrinkles, etc.) but we will gain a whole cheering section to share in the victories and challenges in class and in life.

Read the original article featured in the Mason County News here.

Germs, Bacteria, Plaque…Oh My

Camp Wesley Campers learn about dental hygiene

MHM’s dental services team recently met with the 6–10 year old campers at Camp Wesley to share information about why it is important for the children to brush their teeth. The main learning from the day centered on photos of bacteria that live in our mouths and the consequences of this bacteria turning into plaque if we do not brush and floss regularly.

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The dental team surprised the young campers when they covered one half of a raw egg with fluoride and placed it in a glass filled with vinegar, which symbolized acid made from bacteria in the foods we eat and drink. The children were amazed to see the acid begin to break down the egg’s shell as an example of how acid breaks down the enamel of our teeth and causes cavities. Once the demonstration concluded, campers received a goody bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and educational stickers.

“I love to educate children at a young age about the importance of oral hygiene. If you teach the child the value of their teeth, you set them up for life long health,” shared Maria Reyes, MHM dental hygienist.

Camp Wesley, a group effort

Camp Wesley is underway at the Wesley Health & Wellness Center (WHWC). With nearly 200 registered campers for Camp Wesley session 1, this year’s event is proving to be fun and educational for all involved.

Weekly themes help campers focus

Each week, the camp’s activities are based on a different theme. The first week’s theme was global awareness. Campers engaged in games that are played around the world, they learnedfun facts about different countries and the children participated in craft projects highlighting various cultures. These activities helped promote awareness and acceptance of different cultures. The second week’s theme was super hero’s week. Campers were excited to pretend to be their favorite super hero for the week, they even made their own super hero capes! This week, campers focused on building good character, and practiced finding different ways to help others and how to be a good friend and role model to others.

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Social Workers engage older campers

Four social workers from MHM’s Behavioral Health services partnered with Camp Wesley for a special program for campers age 12 years and older. The social workers led gender and age neutral group-based discussions with the pre-teens about social issues currently impacting the group. The campers were given scenarios and encouraged to share their thoughts about how they would approach the situation. The social workers encouraged the campers to be proactive in the planning and prioritizing of their personal responsibilities.

Healthy eating during Camp Wesley

In addition to the nutritious meals served to campers during Camp Wesley MHM’s Nutrition services provided participants with information about how to maintain and keep a healthy diet. MHM’s registered dieticians taught campers about the five food groups and how they should portion their food and daily meal selection. The dieticians made healthy eating fun using coloring pages and visuals that even the youngest camper could get excited about. The hope is that each child will take the experience home with them so they can share what they learned with their families.

Free dental screenings at Camp Wesley

MHM’s Dental services offered a free dental screening to all campers. The campers were given fluoride treatments, in addition to an exam by MHM’s pediatric dentist, Dr. Webster. After the screenings were complete, the campers were sent back to camp with notes for their parents detailing the screening and their findings.

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Anti-bullying initiative

Campers also participated in an anti-bullying program, presented by the United Communities of San Antonio. During the program, they partake in teambuilding exercises with camp counselors to help them understand the important of connecting with their peers and learning to respect each person’s differences. Campers also learned how to keep themselves from engaging in bullying and what to do if they witness any bullying in camp, at school or at home.

As the first session of Camp Wesley wraps up, we look back in gratitude to all the MHM team members who helped make camp, not only fun, but educational too! The collective efforts of our Behavioral Health Services, Dental, Nutrition and countless others helped the campers walk away with experience and knowledge from a variety of topics. At Camp Wesley, and throughout MHM, we are committed to holistic health—mind, body and spirit. Camp Wesley is just one way we deliver our mission.

MHvsMS kicks forward with 2014 kickoff event

Riders with a cause

Methodist Healthcare Ministries (MHM) and Methodist Healthcare System (MHS), once again, have teamed up to form team MHvsMS to participate in the Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River on October 11 & 12. This marks the seventh consecutive year MHvsMS has participated in the signature fundraising event benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.

Since their formation, MHvsMS has made great strides: in 2008, the team was made up of 20 riders and brought in $402. Last year, the team doubled in size with 57 riders raising more than $58,000. On Thursday, June 19, the team came together for their official kickoff party. Representatives from the San Antonio chapter of the National MS Society were on hand to answer questions and team captain, Barry Blackman, motivated guests with tips and tricks to guarantee a successful ride.

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The sale of vintage team t-shirts and uniforms also helped to kick start the team’s fundraising by bringing in $120 toward the team fundraising goal of $50,000.

MS has no cure. There are more than 2.3 million people worldwide affected by MS. It is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The symptoms can be unpredictable and often debilitating. Together we can offer support, fund research and help find a cure. Will you help us reach this milestone? Your gift will make a lasting difference to the people who must battle MS everyday of their lives. Donate to MHvsMS or join the team and show your support for the fight against MS. 

Farewell to two United Methodist Church Conferences

By Rev. Mickey McCandless,
Director of Spiritual Care & Church Connections

Mickey McCandless - WEB 2013June 12-14, 2014 was the last time the Rio Grande Annual Conference and the Southwest Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church met in their annual regional conference. Corpus Christi was host for the historic ending of these two conferences that are unifying into the Rio Texas Annual Conference to more effectively make up The United Methodist Church in South Texas.

There were elections of leaders for the new conference, the finalization of the first budget, and affirmation of the mission "to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World."

Delegates to the General Conference in 2016 were also elected. We took time to begin planning for ways to implement our new conference and district structure. We celebrated the life of clergy leaders who were retiring; remembered those who had died during the previous year; and celebrated the commissioning and ordination of persons into the full time servant leadership ministry of the Church.

A new day is dawning for United Methodists in South Texas. We look forward with excitement, anxiety, questions, passion and faith to new opportunities to touch people and nurture faith and faith communities.