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CUMC Hosts Health and Wellness Fair

Centreville United Methodist Church (CUMC) has a new Health and Wellness Ministry. And on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., it will host a health and wellness fair in the church's new multipurpose room.

The event is free and open to the public. Called the Redskins Community Health Huddle, it's being coordinated by the ministry in conjunction with HCA Reston Hospital Center and the AARP.

Free health screening will be offered, and people 21 or older may obtain cholesterol, blood pressure or glucose-level screening (no fasting is required) on the spot. And more than 20 exhibitors will provide information on a variety of health and wellness services in the local community.

The Washington Redskins will give away an autographed football and an autographed jersey, and Trader Joe's is providing soup, bread, cheese, crackers, sparkling lemonade, coffee and water free to all who attend.

"I recruited about 22 members to help with the ministry, and this idea was something I came up with," said Crysta Fischer, chairman of CUMC's Health and Wellness Ministry. "It's the first time the church has held such an event in conjunction with others."

"We hope to provide outside resources about health and wellness to the members of our congregation and to the community, plus educational programs with a focus on prevention," she explained. "We hope to bridge the gap between health and medicine and spirituality."

As a registered nurse, herself, Fischer sees the benefits of bringing such a ministry to her church. And since CUMC has such a large congregation — nearly 2,600 members of all ages — there's a range of health issues.

"Because our focus is on wellness, the ministry contains psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects," she said. "Our philosophy is that you can't have wellness without having health in all those areas."

Fischer said the new ministry seemed like "a natural fit" for CUMC because "people of faith, when they experience a crisis of any kind, turn toward spirituality. To many people, their church is like a second home."

She said the church's staff and pastors were open to this ministry, and several members of the congregation are in the health profession. But, she added, "Our ministry members work in various fields, not just health, and that's important because we have a holistic viewpoint of wellness."

According to the ministry's mission statement, it "encourages positive health behaviors among its members and the community and provides the means by which this can be accomplished."

For the Health and Wellness Fair, the AARP is funding all the health screenings, and HCA Reston Hospital Center is providing the testing supplies, plus the nurses who'll do the tests. Attendees will also be counseled about how they can improve their test results.

"And it's all free of charge, which is amazing," said Fischer. "I'm hoping we can provide this to the underserved in our community — people who, for whatever reason, have no access to health care or these tests."

Meanwhile, the nearly two dozen exhibitors will offer literature about the services they provide and will answer questions from attendees. The Inova bloodmobile will also be on hand, from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Among the exhibitors will be: Pfizer, Sport & Health Clubs, Capital Hospice, Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board, Living 4 Adventure, Collette Vacations, Sully District Police Station (personal safety), Life with Cancer, Fairfax County Health Department, Upward Basketball, HEALS Corp., Just Fitness for Kids, ATA Martial Arts, Dinner My Way, I-CARE, Visiting Angels and Comfort Keepers.

"We did this in October at Redskins Park," said registered nurse Cyndee Hochstrasser, director of health and wellness at HCA Reston Hospital Center. "It's a team effort with the Redskins and AARP to try to encourage health and wellness."

As a result of the screenings, people will be able to find out their blood pressure, have a blood-glucose test for diabetes and learn their total amount of cholesterol and their ratio of good to bad cholesterol. "Normally, this would cost $25 just for the cholesterol test, alone," said Hochstrasser. "And you get your results in about 10 minutes."

After the screenings, she said, those falling within abnormal ranges will be encouraged to visit the AARP booth to sign up to be part of the Redskins Health Huddle team. In keeping with the football theme, they'll be given a "play book" containing tips on diet and exercise.

"We'll re-test them at a later date," said Hochstrasser. "And if they improve their scores, they'll be invited to a Redskins game and will be called out onto the field to be recognized at some point during the game. They'll also get an award."

"We're the pilot for this idea," she said. "And if it's successful, then the AARP plans to offer it to the NFL nationwide."

So what's the connection between the hospital and the football team? HCA Virginia — primarily HCA Reston Hospital Center — is the official, health-care provider for the Redskins. In addition, said Hochstrasser, "We both wanted to find a way where we could work together and reach out into the community to improve its health."

Centreville United Methodist Church is off Route 28 and New Braddock Road, just south of the Centreville Multiplex Cinemas. The address is 6400 Old Centreville Road. For more information about the Health and Wellness Fair, contact Fischer at our3girls@cox.net or the church at 703-830-2684.