Bruna Carrione, the health ministries leader of a Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, decided to motivate fellow church members to improve their health habits for the better.
Carrione, from Pavuna Adventist church, noticed that people often felt pressured to adopt better health habits but did not understand how to introduce positive changes in their lives. She decided to work on providing information as she motivated her fellow church members and others in the community to eat healthier food, drink more water, and do more physical exercise.
According to Carrione, her first challenge was to get people to participate and identify with the initiative. “I knew I had to convince church members first, so they themselves could take the message to the community,” she said. “There is no use bringing people from the community into the church if the congregation is not behind it.”
Carrione began to create special days related to health as well as special focus months. For example, in Brazil in January, the focus is on the importance of taking care of one’s mental health. “Every month, depending on the theme for that period, I attended drives and special programs to get the people’s attention,” she shared.
Participation and New Habits
The church initiative began in May 2021, when Carrione decided to challenge church members with a simple request: eat at least one fruit a day, drink more water, and do physical exercise. Then she invited members to post photos showing their compliance and progress on a church message group.
The Healthier initiative, as it was called, ended up infecting many church members. “People became excited,” Carrione said. “They began to post on their social networks and share with their friends.”
One of the participants, Antonio Camelo, said the initiative was the answer he needed. “I’ve always liked the idea of keeping in good health, eating well, and I support the Adventist health message,” the 28-year-old accountant said. “My problem is that I just didn’t know where to start.”
Camelo said that by posting photos of the challenges on his social networks, people became interested in the initiative and also decided to join. “Two friends started doing physical activities simply because they followed what I was doing,” he said.
Immunity and Benefits
Sometime after introducing better health practices in his daily routine, Camelo got infected with COVID-19. According to him, his healthier state made a difference in the way his body faced the infection. “I believe that the changes I had made prepared my body to overcome the disease in a non-aggressive way,” he said. “My sister, who is sedentary, also got infected, and she had a harder time.”
Carrione said that the initiative has also moved out of the church and into the community through Life and Health fairs. Church members are helping to create awareness about the need to include healthier foods on the menu and do physical exercise. The church is also offering free counseling sessions for young people, she reported.
“This is a project for everyone,” Carrione said. “Adults, children, and seniors — all are invited to join.”