There are many barriers to being physically active and eating well. We acknowledge them in the Women Warriors program. We talk about them and create an environment of support so participants can find ways to manage these barriers.
We also take time to celebrate the good things, like the people in our lives that support us, our accomplishments and our commitments to our health.
- Physical Activity Women Warriors increases participants’ physical activity levels and reduces sedentary time as per the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is the target for adults. For youth it is 60 minutes, moderate to vigorous. We also promote reducing screen time and reducing ‘sitting’ time. Being physically active helps prevent excess weight gain and the onset of diabetes.
- Nutrition Women Warriors aims to educate and facilitate exploration of nutrition fundamentals, keeping in mind the regional variation in food choices and issues of food accessibility.
- Social The program also aims to foster feelings of confidence and being supported. The social setting of the sharing circle is specifically designed to create camaraderie and support each participant’s growth.
Each Program is Unique
Women Warriors works with each community to determine its unique needs and to empower its residents to use all the resources at their disposal. We form partnerships with local healthcare providers and together develop the final plan for the program.
- In Lloydminster, we worked with the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre and the Lloydminster Primary Care Network.
- In Onion Lake,we are working with the Health Department of Onion Lake Cree Nation.
- In Calgary, we worked with the City of Calgary and Awo Taan Healing Lodge.
Facilitators are recruited from the community and trained by Women Warriors staff. They are connected to their community and understand its needs. This strong connection grounds the program in the community.
The programs run for 8 – 12 weeks depending on the community.
They consist of weekly or twice weekly classes, 90 minutes each which includes:
- 45 to 60 minutes of exercise taught by local fitness instructors and varied per the requests of the participants.
- 15 to 30 minutes of nutrition and health education. The nutrition education focuses on the fundamentals of healthy eating. The health education focuses on prevention of any issues that the participants may need or want to learn about.
- 15 to 45 minutes of sharing circle time. This allows participants to safely share and explore challenges and successes.
In between sessions, participants continue to support one another and to be active!
Shelley Wiart is Métis from the Northwest Territories and a member of the North Slave Metis Alliance. She is a mother to three beautiful girls Kayla, Aubrey, and Harper. Her family has an intergenerational history of type II diabetes. She was an obese child, adolescent, and young adult and had the potential to continue her family history of type II diabetes, instead she choose to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and be a role model for her three girls. Her mission is to help women reclaim their health and self-esteem through an active lifestyle, and holistic health approach. Her focus is on prevention through physical activity, raising awareness of the type II diabetes epidemic among Canadians, and educating people on how lifestyle, nutrition and genetics contribute to inter-generational incidences. She is passionate about decreasing the inter-generational cycle of type II diabetes in families.
Dr. Sonja Wicklum
Dr. Sonja Wicklum is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine of the University of Calgary. Dr. Wicklum practiced rural family medicine in Ronan, Mt (Flathead Indian Reservation) and rural Ontario (1994 – 2010). She also practiced obesity medicine at The Ottawa Hospital (2006-2012) and has worked with off-reserve Aboriginal groups in the Maritime Provinces using a participatory approach to developing wellness programming. She has extensive experience in rural family medicine, preventive health, nutrition education, and obesity management. She recently joined the faculty at the University of Calgary as a Major Clinical Academic in the Department of Family Medicine. The format of an educational tool, the CANdeck (CAN = Canadian Aboriginal Nutrition), which was developed in conjunction with a group of Maritime off-reserve Aboriginal groups will be adapted for the region and components of the CANdeck Wellness Program will be added to the Women Warriors program.