August 21, 2020

In Colombia, Adventist Church Trains Social Work Directors on Healthy Living

Laura Acosta, Inter-American Division News

More than 200 social work directors across seven departments, or provinces, in Colombia completed the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “I Want to Live Healthy” program. It is part of a larger plan to assist municipal districts and their communities in promoting a healthier lifestyle as the pandemic crisis lingers.

The I Want to Live Healthy certification training was done through e-learning video conference classes for nine weeks and included supplemental Adventist publications on strengthening marriage, the home, and society, as well as parenting.

The I Want to Live Healthy initiative consists of the eight steps for living a healthy lifestyle: drinking water, keeping a positive attitude, eating salads, exercising, resting, avoiding unhealthy foods, eating a better breakfast and fewer dinners, and promoting happiness.

“There have been problems and deficiencies in catering to those with disabilities in many communities, and the rate of suicide among young people and family violence has also increased,” said Paola A. Vargas, program director of the I Want to Live Healthy program in the South Colombia Union church region. In addition to using books published by the Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA) and collaboration with several Adventist universities in the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the church, the certification was held in coordination with the Federacion Nacional de Departamentos (FND), or National Federation of Departments, in the country, Vargas explained.

Training Sessions

Since June 2020, the certification training has consisted of one-hour video sessions Monday through Friday for social work directors across municipal districts. The main objective was to teach them how to promote wholistic health in their respective regions and assure inclusiveness among the disabled.

Erika Vasquez, social work director in the North Colombia Union region, thanked church leaders for the training sessions. “These sessions have empowered us. Thanks to this course, I was able to implement the program ‘Move for Your Health’ in my municipal district.”

Similarly, Angela Jaime, a social work director in North Colombia, said that the training was not only useful regarding physical, emotional, and psychological health but also to spiritual health, which many workshops do not include. “The I Want to Live Healthy program teaches this whole principle well, and it was really important,” Jaime said.

Claudia Ramirez, the child, youth, and equality advisor for women in Colombia for the FND, took part in the certification program and said that it was significant for the social work teams in the country.

“IADPA resources are the kind of content that supports not only nutrition but nourishes the soul for good social and cognitive development within families as social integrators,” she said.

Agents of Change

Roel Cea, executive director of the I Want to Live Healthy network, was among the presenters during the certification program. He encouraged the 211 attending social work directors to live healthy. “Do you want to live healthy? What’s most important is that if you have decided to be healthy, then it is time to share with others so that it can become a very important movement in our communities,” he said.

The two-month course ended with an online graduation ceremony on August 4, with Elie Henry, IAD president, congratulating the social work leaders.

“A small virus transformed the world and changed everything — health, government, among others,” he said. “In the same way, we can be agents of change to transform the family with principles like the eight healthy habits and trusting in God.”

Ramirez thanked church leaders and commented that the healthy initiative complies with all the standards of norms and values which allow parents and caregivers to be trained in the development and life skills of children while seeking a life of good treatment and self-love, without violence, for the children of Colombia.

“This collaborative work is important for the personal growth of those who have taken the courses, and for our families and those near us,” she said. “Service to others is a great call and great legacy that the Lord Jesus Christ left us.”

According to Cea, the COVID-19 pandemic is not a challenge for the I Want to Live Healthy program. “It’s a great opportunity to reach more people with a message of hope,” he said.

Cea added that the initiative is relevant for everyone at “this historical moment we are living in.”

“The fact is that we can promote wholistic health — not only physical but mental, social, and spiritual health,” he said.

Church leaders said that more certifications on the I Want to Live Healthy program will take place in the coming weeks for 14 other provinces across Colombia.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.