Promoting Healthy Families and Healthy Lives

by McKenzie Feitler '11

In September 1998, the Neighborhood Wellness Center (NWC) opened its doors to the Azusa community to provide free health education and care. A joint effort between the city of Azusa and Azusa Pacific University’s School of Nursing, the center was created by APU nursing faculty as a means for the university to give back to the local community.

Since opening, the NWC has expanded its services, promoting healthy living through free seminars, referrals, screenings, and assessments. Due to its success, the NWC expanded this year, opening a second site in the southwest part of Azusa at 5355 N. Enid Ave., to accommodate and help more residents.

“Our visitors deeply appreciate the individual attention and services they receive when they visit us, as primary care providers often have limited time to sit and talk with their patients,” said Julie Pusztai, MSN, RN, director of the Neighborhood Wellness Center. “We’ve made wonderful long term relationships with many visitors.”

Along with the services the NWC offers, they have also formed several programs targeting diabetes and obesity prevention in the community. Azusa Walks, the largest of the programs offered, aims to increase physical activity, assist with weight loss, and provide nutrition knowledge to local residents.

“The walks take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Dalton Ave. location, and on Monday and Wednesday mornings at the new Enid Ave. location. Some of the women have even created their own walking groups on other mornings and weekends,” said Pusztai. “The participants commit to at least four weeks of visits, but are encouraged to come in for additional education, weigh-ins, and support.”

Another program offered by the NWC is the Health Education Leadership Program (H.E.L.P.), which identifies and trains community volunteers to provide diabetes and obesity prevention education. The center has partnered with various community agencies, organizations, schools, and churches to reach people of all ages.

In 2009, the NWC partnered with Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha and the Healthy Azusa Committee to develop their newest program, Be A Walker. This program offers community walks in local parks on the second Saturday of each month, welcoming families and local residents to participate.

This fall promises to be an exciting time for the Neighborhood Wellness Center with a number of planned events. On September 1, the center will hold a Back-to-School Nutrition session, to discuss information about nutrition, healthy eating, and cooking topics.

Also, the Azusa Walks and Be A Walker groups will participate in the Golden Days parade in October, supporting the Golden Days 2K and 5K run walk.

The Be A Walker Saturday events are also scheduled to continue year-round on the second Saturday of each month. For the upcoming months, this includes September 11 at Northside Park located in the 600 block of West 11th Street and October 9, with the location to still be determined.

For more information about services, events, and programs, contact the center at (626) 812-5191.