Health and wellness might not sound like a concern of local libraries, but Meridian Library District leaders think otherwise.
Starting this month the district is launching a new citywide health initiative, giving residents access to more resources fostering a healthy lifestyle.
The program, Meridian Moves, will include fitness classes, online resources and additions to the library district’s collection — things like healthy living cookbooks, workout DVDs and wellness books. District staff have put an emphasis on family health literacy “to promote a healthy lifestyle from a young age,” said library spokeswoman Macey Snelson.
Through the program, library staff plan to create “ways for kids and families to get active, to stay active and to learn about nutrition and how to fuel our bodies,” said Emily Brock, public services librarian. Hopefully, she said, those practices will stick with individuals for the rest of their lives.
The program is being funded through a $46,200 grant the district received from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine earlier this year. When applying for the grant, Brock and Megan Egbert, district programs manager, focused on diabetes management and prevention, identified as one of the major areas of concern in Ada County in the 2016 St. Luke’s Health Needs Assessment. Diabetes can contribute to heart and kidney disease, and in some cases result in death. Direct medical costs for type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly $1 of every $10 spent on medical care in the U.S., the assessment stated.
Through the grant, the library district will add 20 kits to its collection with things like blood pressure cuffs and monitoring devices, and jump ropes helping residents track and prevent diabetes. The kits will be ready to check out in January, Snelson said.
A portion of the grant will also pay for the library to host four additional back-to-back fitness classes every Sunday at one of the library’s branches. The library district is working with community partners to “layer in different styles of learning” in its new classes, Snelson said, which will include family yoga, Zumba and karate.
The classes and additional resources allow the library to introduce library patrons to new styles of fitness, Snelson said.
“You have some who want to read about it and research it, and you have some who want access to it at home, and this kind of allows that broad spectrum where you have all of them,” Snelson said.
The library already offers roughly 15 monthly fitness classes — like its Fit and Fall Proof program for seniors and its family yoga classes.
“The nice thing about the grant is it is building upon the success we’ve already had with our health and wellness initiative here at the library,” said Egbert.
The grant will pay for the additional Sunday classes until the end of April 2019, but the district will retain the resources the grant is paying for — like the kits and extra books.
As part of the initiative, the library district has formed a committee with members of partner organizations like Meridian Parks and Recreation and St. Luke’s. As Meridian Moves progresses, the library district plans to work with those organizations to make sure information about all community related health and wellness resources are available for patrons to find in on the Meridian Library District website.
St. Luke’s Community Health Manager Angie Gribble is a committee member. Having all the community’s resources compiled in one place will be helpful to residents because “navigating our community is tougher than we think,” she said. The website will help people engage on whatever level they want. Long term Gribble said the committee would like to find ways to change Meridian’s culture to make health a top priority in the community.
Gribble said Meridian Moves will bring resources to where people are — one of the most effective ways to “get them moving.”