On Feb. 4, Southcentral Foundation will host The Gathering, a family-friendly community health fair that is free and open to the general public. The Gathering is a congregation of people and cultures that is attended by nearly 3,000 people each year. Individuals and families of all backgrounds and ages are welcome to come enjoy a variety of age-appropriate activities, learning opportunities, giveaways, and entertainment. This year’s celebration marks the 20th anniversary of the event and will take place from 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. at the Egan Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.

The Gathering was conceived by SCF leadership back in the late 90s. The vision was to honor the Alaska Native tradition of bringing people together with family and friends to visit, eat, dance, and share. However, this event does more than honor tradition, it opens its doors to the entire community to share health information and to celebrate the benefits of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

Throughout the years, The Gathering has seen a variety of participants and attendees. Alaska’s political leaders have attended and are enthusiastic supporters. Last year, Governor Walker attended, and in years past, Congressman Don Young, Senator Lisa Murkowski, the late Senator Ted Stevens, and others have also joined in the festivities.

Perhaps most notably, Golden Globe nominated actress Irene Bedard, who starred in Smoke Signals and as the voice of Disney’s Pocahontas, celebrated with SCF in 2012 by attending The Gathering. She met with attendees and autographed memorabilia for fans.

New additions that SCF is excited to present at the 20th Annual Gathering include the Family Wellness Zone, a SCF Health Education-run area where adults and children can participate in activities as a family; an incredible magic show with magician, Magic by Robbie; and story time, a place for families to experience the exciting power of narrative. Returning family favorites include complimentary carriage rides, face painting, and free tax preparation!

Please join us at The Gathering to learn more about Alaska Native culture and healthy living, and enjoy connecting with the community.

Health care information shouldn’t be hard to access; with My AK Wellness, it’s easy. Smartphones keep a variety of essential resources close at hand: camera, maps, shopping, email, and more; Southcentral Foundation wants to put health care within reach too.

My AK Wellness, an online fitness and wellness resource, was designed to help customer-owners achieve their health and wellness goals. The tool is free and available to those ages 18 and older.
The confidential website provides resources that provide customer-owners with the ability to:

• Track your food and exercise.
• Log health information such as weight, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol.
• Sync your activity tracker (e.g., Garmin or Fitbit) and upload achievements
• Participate in wellness contests to win prizes.
• Create personalized meal plans with shopping lists.
• Help create work-out routines (complete with exercise videos).
• and more!

SCF understands that one health plan does not fit everyone’s needs, which is why My AK Wellness is personalized for each customer-owner. The full My AK Wellness experience comes when a participant completes the personal health assessment (PHA), which is a survey that asks questions about health, nutrition, exercise, emotions/stress, and more. After completing the PHA, the program will provide resources specific to the individual participant’s needs, allow them to browse through meal plans, including diabetic and vegetarian plans, view health risks, and make a plan to address them.

My AK Wellness doesn’t just provide information, it receives it too! Customers can engage in two-way conversations with a health coach or dietitian. When you are on your wellness journey and have questions or concerns, you can message them directly. A health coach specializes in health education and disease prevention but does not replace your primary care provider, instead, they become a part of your primary care team.

For questions about My AK Wellness, please contact SCF Health Education at (907) 729-2689. To gain access to tools that promote healthy living go to https://myakwellness.cernerwellness.com

In early December, Alaska Children’s Trust awarded Dr. Matt Hirschfeld with the prestigious Ray Helfer Award. Established by the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and the American Academy of Pediatrics, this award is given to a pediatrician who demonstrates a significant contribution to the well-being and health of children.