New Cafe Offers Healthy Alternatives

Published: Thursday, December 08, 2016

Older adults in the North Hills area now have a place to make a healthy start.

Lutheran Service Society has partnered with St. John’s Lutheran Church of Highland in McCandless to open the Healthy Start Cafe, which will offer health-focused programming each Monday and Thursday morning at the church.

Participants can enjoy healthy breakfast options including nutritious shakes and smoothies, socialize with friends and take part in low-impact exercise classes. Health screenings, wellness related programs and educational programs will also be offered.

The Healthy Start Café will build upon the success of the existing exercise program at the church, with the hope of evolving it into a more comprehensive senior center program.

“The mission of the program is having fun and staying young,” said Pr. William Diehm, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran.

Pr. Diehm recognizes that older people know the importance of healthy aging. “The café gives them a place to go to help them achieve their fitness goals.”

Exercise instructor Dawn Andersson explained that her classes focus on flexibility, cardio, range of motion and balance. But, she said, for the 20 to 30 current participants, the social aspect is just as important.

“The program combines friendship and exercise. It’s an unbeatable combination,” Andersson said.

“Today’s seniors are more active. We can start a golf group or a cycling group and reading groups. We want to offer a wide variety of physical and mental activities,” said Terry Mann, director of Lutheran Service Society.

The Healthy Start Café joins two other senior centers run by Lutheran Service Society – Center at the Mall in the Beaver Valley Mall, and the Bellvue Senior Center. Each are funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery, county agencies on aging and community sponsors.

Additional funds for the Healthy Start Café were provided by the Passavant Hospital Foundation to purchase food, tables and supplies.

The program is open to anyone age 60 or older. Participation is free. 

Pictured above: Carole and Chuck Helvig, Healthy Start participants, and exercise class leader Dawn Andersson.

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