Head Start Workshop Teaches Community about Health, Crisis Management

During the first day of the Self Empowerment Expo on Tuesday, attendees learned a number of tricks about how to maintain a healthy body and stay mentally balanced, especially in times of crisis.

Organized by the Department of Human Services’ Head Start Program, the free, two-day workshop drew staff, community members and parents of children who participate in the program.

With a focus on self-exploration, the workshop’s aim is to help give participants a deeper understanding of themselves and what they hope to accomplish in life.

“In the community today people want knowledge and training, so we’re bringing them together for an opportunity to hear about different critical topics,” said Denise Chamblee, family service coordinator and mental health manger.

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To teach attendees about mental health and emotional balance, Chamblee’s session on “Managing Your Crazy” explored the differences between being passionate about something and being deranged.

Some of the ways people can stay balanced, Chamblee said, include finding a constructive hobby and by surrounding oneself with positive people. Internally, people can use the power of positive thought, known as positive picturing, to stay balanced and focused, she said.

Speaking on stress management, Ulalie Smith, Head Start’s health manager, said, “Stress doesn’t mean you’re pulling out your hairs. It means a lot of stressors are happening at once in the body.”

Staying organized and taking time to relax are key ways to manage stress levels, Smith said.

Smith also explained the importance of staying calm during a crisis, since doing so is key to solving an issue. Many people are so frantic and can’t give clear directions when they call an emergency operator, which makes it difficult for responders to quickly get to the scene.

Pat Buchar of Paradise Chiropractic and Wellness Center presented on how to keep the body healthy through nutrition, exercise and chiropractic. Many of the workshops attendees we’re surprised to learn how thin-skinned fruits like peaches and berries soak in more harmful pesticides than other fruits.

Commissioner-designee Felecia L. Blyden said, “This Self-Empowerment Expo will help to build and maintain self-sufficiency such as understanding who you are and where you want to be.”

“Workshops such as these are very important because they help guide you in the right direction, set goals and show you how to achieve them,” Blyden continued.

This is the first year for the workshop, but its organizers intend to make it an annual event.

“I encourage the community to attend this free workshop that will help enhance your self-image. It is well worth it,” Blyden said.

The workshop continues on Wednesday from 9 a.m. until noon at the Department of Human Services located at the Sugar Estate Multipurpose Center on First Avenue across from Charlotte Amalie High School.

Tuesday’s lineup includes the following sessions: “Healthy relationships,” “How to manage stress,” “The needs 2 succeed for young learners” and “Job/Career enhancement.”

Head Start is a federally funded education, social services and nutrition program that provides assistance for 3- to 5-year-old children from low-income families.

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