Top: Members of the Punjabi community during a chronic disease management course held at Gurdwara Western Singh Sabha Below: Members of the Punjabi community attended a health workshop at the Sikh Temple on Mackenzie Avenue Jan. 3. The workshop was in addition to a four-day diabetes management workshop held there last week.

Top: Members of the Punjabi community during a chronic disease management course held at Gurdwara Western Singh Sabha Below: Members of the Punjabi community attended a health workshop at the Sikh Temple on Mackenzie Avenue Jan. 3. The workshop was in addition to a four-day diabetes management workshop held there last week.

New course helps improve health of South Asians

For the first time in Williams Lake a health course has been delivered in the Punjabi language to local residents.

For the first time in Williams Lake a health course has been delivered in the Punjabi language to local residents. Last week, two courses ran consecutively at each of the community’s Sikh temples — Gurdwara Western Singh Sabha on Pine Street and the Sikh Temple on Mackenzie Avenue North.

Funded by the Ministry of Health and conducted through the University of Victoria’s Centre for Aging, the chronic disease self-management program is taught throughout the province by the program’s co-ordinator Jay Bains to Punjabi-speaking residents of British Columbia.

City councillor Surinderpal Rathor met Bains after attending one of his workshops and requested he come to Williams Lake to give a workshop.

“He was pleased to come. My job was to work as a liaison with him and the leadership of both temples,” Rathor says, adding Bains visited the community earlier and met with members from both temples to determine if there was enough interest in having him come back to do the workshops.

There was a lot of interest, and as a result Bains returned last week to deliver two different sessions. One focused on chronic disease precautions, the other on diabetes.

The workshops ran around six hours a day, and attracted around 50 adults of all ages. Some of the people taking the courses were there not because they have health issues, but because they want to help others in their community.

Speaking at the Thursday afternoon graduation, Rathor congratulated the workshop attendants.

He suggested if even five people changed their health habits and did not need to go to the hospital then the workshop will be a success.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, on behalf of the provincial government and the Ministry of Health, says she’s pleased the government is funding programs like this one.

“Anything that we can do as governments, as communities, as people to help people eat healthier, be more active is good. For the mind set as well. Too often we don’t recognize that. To share each others’ cultures and share in understanding each other actually provides healthier living,” she said, adding she hopes that the program will expand into helping other community members.

Bains said that South Asians are the highest group of immigrants in Canada who are presently experiencing chronic disease, especially diabetes and hyper tension.

“It’s because of eating habits and lack of exercise,” Bains said.

In the workshops, he teaches participants to develop an action plan around their health and ways to help other people.

Already participants were committing themselves to start doing yoga, walking regularly, working on deep breathing, and eating healthier.

Looking around the room, Rathor said the participants will have an impact because they can encourage their own friends and family.