DAMIEN WOOD - Herald-Tribune
Grande Prairie’s first annual Health and Wellness gave visitors what it seems is exactly what they wanted – lots of different options under one roof.
The Evergreen Park TEC Centre pulled in around 3,000 people to check out 90 exhibitors over the course of the weekend.
Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, personal trainers, practitioners of alternative medicine and quite a few others all got attention from visitors – some just wandering and some with very specific questions.
“I just think it’s nice to see what perhaps is available to us locally, or even just something to do on your own to look after your own health,” said Carolyn Riha.
“You’ve got options of doing whatever you want – options on getting better. (There is) a lot of new stuff and new ways to do things,” said Shawn Sutherland.
Show producer Jenny Kachkar said people’s interest could be because of the current state of healthcare, with doctor shortages being what they are, but also the age of information.
“I think with the world of the Internet and accessibility to electronic media, people are really taking the initiative to find their research. They are still going to their doctors ... but figure out their own way that’s going to give you the right remedy or what’s going to best suit your personal lifestyle,” she said.
“We go to the doctor when we need to, but if it’s something that we can do at home we’re not putting lag on the system by hanging out in the emergency room for a cold,” said Cori Lester.
Registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Karie Quinn said people are possibly “waking up.”
“They’re starting to really respond to ‘what can I do?’ as opposed to ‘somebody else help me, somebody else treat me,’” she said.
“It may be as simple as our lifestyle. Many, many chronic diseases – not all of them, but many chronic diseases – can be assisted and maybe even prevented or delayed just simply by moving more and eating maybe a little less in portioning.”
Nutrition seemed to be a popular topic at the show. Sutherland found himself at one juice exhibitor to find something better than the rest.
Lester’s husband, Lawrence, left with juice under his arm.
Demonstrations of healthy eating on the main stage by cooks from Jax Grill and Lounge and Moxie’s Classic Grill pulled in some of the bigger audiences with free samples.
Quinn, who also presented at the show, said the weekend has been a bit of a dream to her as she has a background in both traditional and alternative medicine.
She is glad to see it all under one roof.
“You cannot give one individual the same message that you give to the next,” she said.
“At first glance, I think people are expecting to see (traditional) types of information. But they’re coming in – pleasantly, I think – thinking ‘hey, it can all work.’”