Smoothies and acupuncture created a buzz during Healthy U, a daylong event dedicated to healthy living.
Now in its second year, Healthy U welcomed several hundred guests April 13 to Avalon Manor in Merrillville. The event, which was presented by Creative Solutionz and The Times Media Company, featured a selection of 45-minute workshops, guest speaker Alison Victoria, health screenings, a healthy lunch, raffle prizes and vendor booths.
Healthy U creator and organizer Lourdes Castellanos took the stage for the morning welcome and received a good response when she asked how many attendees had come last year and how many had used information they learned last year in their daily lives.
“I know we’re accomplishing our goal,” Castellanos said after the event. “That is the best compliment that we can get. I learned x, y and z and I’ve incorporated those things into my daily life.
“I feel like the word is spreading about Healthy U and what our mission is,” she said. “We’re creating a good stepping stone to get the community involved in healthy living.”
Popular workshops included Pet Health & Wellness, where a representative from the local Canine Affinity stores shared health tips for the family pet; Vitamin Smarts where a representative of Baum’s Natural Foods helped attendees learn what their bodies need at different ages; and Diabetic Cooking, where a chef prepared a three-course meal in 45 minutes.
Workshop leaders and vendors came from throughout Northwest Indiana and beyond, Castellanos says. “They said we really need events like this in our communities. They needed to reach out to our community to offer their information.”
Deej Leggitt, founder and owner of Camp Rawnora in Watervliet, Mich., says, “We’re practically in Indiana and we are a destination location for healthy living enthusiasts from throughout the country.”
Her presentation, titled “It’s not your fault,” reminded attendees how their diets influence health and how to take control of it like she did. She says, “People stopped by our booth later in the day to say how much they loved my talk.”
Adam Graham, director at Camp Rawnora said their booth at Healthy U allowed them to connect with health minded individuals and share information about their health retreats. Graham, who is also a raw foods author, instructor and chef, said they had great turnout for their presentations and sold packaged snack items and copies of his book, “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Raw Food Detox.”
More than 30 vendors were featured at Healthy U in categories of home, environment, nutrition, fitness, style, health and wellness.
Interior designer Alison Victoria, of the DIY channel’s “Kitchen Crashers,” spoke for an hour before lunch. Her presentation, titled “A happy home is a healthy home: creating a compelling space,” taught attendees how to improve the spaces in their home. She focused on colors, organization and function. When she opened the floor for questions, attendees wanted specifics, Castellanos said. They asked questions like what colors to use in their bathroom and what type of lighting works in a small kitchen.
After the presentation, Victoria met with attendees and signed autographs.
“I’m proud to say we’ve had great speakers in the two years we’ve had Healthy U,” Castellanos says. “They’re good motivators for our guests.”
Even the Healthy U team members felt motivated during the event. They were encouraged to rotate schedules so everyone could attend at least one workshop every other hour.
“Our team has people on this healthy journey with everyone else,” Castellanos says.
Kathy Sipple, founder of 219 GreenConnect, said she enjoyed the event. Attendees seemed interested to learn that 219greenconnect.com covers healthy, local topics year round, she said. The Northwest Indiana Natural Health Initiative that launched last year also interested them.
“I sponsor a smaller gathering each month called Green Drinks in Valparaiso, where environmentally minded people come together to learn and discuss topics related to the environment, including natural health,” Sipple says.
During Healthy U, she was able to attend the Clean Eating workshop with Cheryl Dornberg from Mrs. Dornberg's Culinary Experience and found it educational.
Jennifer Walker, owner of Midwest Core Fitness in Valparaiso, said this was her first time at the event. Her booth displayed her TRX Suspension Trainer and marketed her fitness classes.
“I had a lot of good feedback from the audience walking through,” she says. “I think promoting overall health and fitness is something everyone can use and this event got to show the community useful ways to incorporate health and fitness into their lives.”
Fellow vendor Mark Zaranski, of East Wind Acupuncture, Inc. in Highland, Chesterton and New Buffalo, Mich., was also a newcomer at Healthy U. He said his group made useful connections and six attendees decided to find out if traditional Chinese medicine might help them with their health issues.
Castellanos hopes that next year’s event will reach more young people to teach them about healthy living before problems start.
“We encouraged our guests to support the event by bringing other guests next year,” she says. Next year’s event will take place April 5, 2014, at Avalon Manor in Merrillville. For information, call 219.678.8255.