A wellspring of wellness opportunities in DraperApr 30, 2022 10:33AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
A focus on wellness is well under way in Draper. Beyond the programs offered by the Parks and Recreation department, and in addition to the multitude of maintained trails, the city is offering yoga and mindfulness classes. And a new coalition focused on residents’ wellness has recently been established.
David Wilks is Special Events Manager for Draper. In addition to the annual events he coordinates such as the Easter Egg Hunt, the Veteran’s Day ceremony, the December Tree Lighting and others, Wilks has helped introduce two new programs focused on wellness: mindfulness and yoga.
“Both of these programs started because we were approached by people in the community who are instructors,” Wilks said. Draper is one of few Utah cities that offer these.
Mindfulness classes, taught by certified instructor Linnea Charnholm, happen this summer on Tuesday mornings promptly at 7:15 a.m. in the Day Barn. Cost is $12/month. Fall classes (location to be determined) will be held Tuesday evenings.
“We know there are proven benefits to mindfulness, everything from stress reduction to improving focus and improving cognitive flexibility. In addition to mental health, it also helps physical health by addressing chronic pain and anxiety. With the number of Americans suffering from anxiety, we thought it would be a great benefit to the people of our community,” Wilks said.
Mindfulness classes are geared toward beginners. Classes focus on breathing exercises, self-compassion and gratitude practices, and ways to stay in the present moment. The demographics of the class are diverse with a mixture of men and women of varying ages and physical abilities. Students can sit in a chair, on the floor, or on a yoga mat, whatever works best for the individual.
Draper resident Nancy Nichols has been doing the mindfulness class since it started two years ago. “Every new year, I would come up with a word or two I wanted to work on for the year, and for that year the goal I had was to become more mindful. I saw the class advertised and I thought ‘this is perfect’. I’d heard of it before but I’d never done practices on it, and I really like how Linnea does the class.” Nichols said she has learned practices that help her stay in the present moment and techniques that she uses in her daily life. Plus, she likes how each class ends with a quote or poem that pertains to mindfulness.
Draper City’s Yoga program is offered during the months of June, July and August. They meet one day per week with four different class times offered that day; early morning, mid-morning, afternoon and evening. “It’s outdoors in Corner Canyon at our Peak View Trailhead. The setting is gorgeous. It’s been very popular and it sells out because it has limited capacity,” Wilks said.
“Yoga on the Mountain” is taught by Yoga Alliance instructor Jennifer Mason. It’s available to anyone 12 years and older. Cost is $40 for one four-week session.
“We can’t offer the programs for free, but because it’s such a benefit to people’s well-being, we’ve done our best to offer them as inexpensive as possible,” Wilks said, adding that people can drop in to try a Mindfulness class for free before registering. Registration for Yoga opens May 25 and is likely to fill up quickly.
Draper’s Communication Director Linda Peterson serves as coordinator of the city’s newly established Wellness Coalition. The coalition is comprised of Draper’s fire and police chiefs, the Parks and Recreation Director, and Peterson along with partners in the community including Salt Lake County Health Department, Draper Recreation Center, Lone Peak Hospital, Draper Senior Center, Canyons School District and PEHP (the city’s health insurance provider).
“We’ve established quarterly meetings and we discuss needs in the community related to health. Police and fire departments in particular are on the front lines, so they have a good understanding of what some of the health needs are in the community. They not only respond on medical calls, but also on calls related to mental health, so they’ve provided some good insight,” Peterson said.
The coalition’s first focus was mental health. “Everyone thought that was a high-level need following the pandemic.” She created the Draper Wellness webpage where people can go if they are looking for health resources. It includes links to the community partner websites, most of whom have ongoing programs and services to further help the community.
“Our Parks and Recreation Department has been really good at offering a variety of programs and they keep those at affordable costs. This is taking it to the next level, branching out and pulling in all of these great community partners who have additional options for enjoyable health care things, or if someone is in crisis or poor health, places they can turn for additional support,” Peterson said.
The coalition’s current focus is resilience and self-care. “We felt that was a good follow up, especially for youth, building that resilience and getting through difficulties to strengthen themselves emotionally and make sure they’re taking care of themselves,” Peterson said.
She hopes residents will reach out to the city to give feedback if there are needs that should be addressed. “We want it to be interactive,” Peterson said. “We don’t want to just push information out there and not have it be useful to someone.”
In April, Draper was recognized as a Healthy Utah Community by the Utah League of Cities and Towns, a statewide recognition for having met certain criteria.
Information on mindfulness can be found at www.draperutah.gov/1587/beginning-mindfulness-class
Information on yoga can be found at www.draperutah.gov/1858/Yoga-on-the-Mountain
The Draper Wellness webpage can be found at www.draperutah.gov/1906/Draper-Wellness.Residents can offer feedback to the city’s Wellness Coalition by emailing [email protected]