PUBLISHED: 7:50 PM on Wednesday, October 29, 2008
SEARHC expands WISEFAMILIES to Wrangell, Kake
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) recently was awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend its WISEFAMILIES Through Customary and Traditional Living program to Wrangell and Kake.

The WISEFAMILIES program is a successful pilot program in Klukwan that involves a partnership between the Chilkat Indian Village's Klukwan Traditional Knowledge Camp and the SEARHC WISEWOMAN cardiovascular health program. In Klukwan, members of the WISEFAMILIES program learn how to harvest and preserve traditional subsistence foods at moose, salmon and hooligan camps. They also learn Tlingít language and traditional skills such as carving and weaving. These traditional activities improve overall health and wellness.

The new grant will fund community-based camps and programs in Wrangell and Kake that promote traditional foods and activities. Since subsistence practices and foods vary by location and season, each community will have input into the design and topics of its local camps. Research shows a diet full of traditional foods can be a good way to prevent many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Camp activities in Wrangell and Kake are set to start in the spring of 2009.

"This is a great opportunity to extend the successful traditional knowledge camps in Klukwan to other communities," said Martha Pearson, a health educator with the SEARHC WISEWOMAN program. "The camps combine respect for traditional living and chronic disease prevention, a definite win-win situation."

The WISEFAMILIES grant will be renewed each year for up to five years, depending on its success. The grant will help fund a new part-time health advocate position in Wrangell. That person will coordinate the camps and offer community health programs.