Seventh-day Adventists from across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific were equipped with the latest lifestyle medicine strategies and research during the third ELIA Wellness Summit, October 15-17. More than 190 individuals attended the online event, and another 120 attended two satellite events run simultaneously in Honiara and at Atoifi Adventist Hospital in the Solomon Islands Mission.
A third satellite event at Pacific Adventist University (PAU) in Papua New Guinea, with 80 attendees expected, was postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The program featured a team of researchers and clinicians from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the Pacific Islands, who shared their expertise, presenting a range of cutting-edge lifestyle medicine topics.
“We seek to create and promote evidence-based, accessible resources and training in lifestyle medicine that will inspire and empower people to bring health, healing, and hope to their communities,” ELIA Wellness executive director Geraldine Przybylko said. “It was great to see that 95 percent of participants felt more educated and equipped to do this.”
Attendees learned how lifestyle medicine can be used to improve immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the relation between spirituality and well-being, the best diet for diabetes, the impact of food on the gut microbiome, and much more.
“I was blessed to be part of the program,” Trans Pacific Union Mission president Maveni Kaufononga said. “Presenters gave presentations based on research, which made them very powerful. It was good to see the many resources that ELIA has on their website—resources that local communities can use.” He added, “It was just good to see our Adventist communities standing together in an endeavor to make a difference in the health of our communities.”
Another key feature of the program was The 10,000 Toes campaign. This Adventist Health initiative has been growing across the Pacific despite challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions, with 713 events run so far.
“The 10,000 Toes campaign is the main wellness strategy in the Pacific. It is about turning the tide on diabetes,” South Pacific Division (SPD) president Glenn Townend explained. “This lifestyle disease can be prevented, managed, and in some instances reversed by implementing a healthy lifestyle. We learned plenty of good tips at the Wellness Summit to help us implement positive lifestyle change so we can live our best life.”
Trained by 10,000 Toes regional ambassador George Kwong and Papua New Guinea Union Mission health director Zachary Lipen, 3,616 ambassadors have been educated and equipped to help combat diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases.
“I am so thankful for The 10,000 Toes project as it is having a great impact in our union, and I’m so proud to see what George Kwong is doing in this area,” Kaufononga said.