Wellness Blog

"Wellness is not the absence of illness but the presence of purpose in life; satisfying work and play, joyful relationships, a healthy body and environment— and happiness"

Stairways clients help bring holiday cheer to those in need

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This holiday season, some Stairways Behavioral Health clients spread some cheer to those in need by creating gift bags for homeless individuals at St. Patrick’s Haven and the Mercy Center for Women.

Clients who participated in “Thinking Wellness and Community” and “’Thoughtful’ Community Service,” two Psychiatric Rehabilitation classes at BLOOM Collaborative, worked on social and cognitive skills while creating gift bags for the men, women and children.

In all, the groups produced 50 hand-decorated gift bags. The bags included a scarf, socks, candy, toys and coloring books for kids, art supplies, toiletries, and a lip balm with a label that reads “You’re the balm. Be well.” Participants worked as a team to make the scarves, put together the coloring books, and choose the personal items. Each bag also included a greeting card addressed personally by a class member.

The classes, which were led by Psych Rehab staff Christine Linkie, Tina Loomis and Michelle Jaggi, charged clients with creating a service project for the holidays. Participants shared how meaningful it was for them to give back to the community.

The “Thinking Wellness and Community” class focused on cognitive skills—for example, memory, planning, and social perception.  Then, in the “’Thoughtful’ Community Service” class immediately afterward, participants practiced cognitive and social skills while working on the gift bags.

The Psych Rehab program offers classes each season at BLOOM aimed at developing skills, increasing engagement, and improving quality of life for Stairways clients.


The contents of men's, boys', girls' and women's gift bags assembled by Stairways clients

Exercise vital to wellness

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Exercise has long been linked to improved mood, greater self-esteem, increased mental functioning and a reduction in stress but new research indicates the benefits of physical activity could be even greater among children, particularly those with attention issues.

The nine-month study published in the October issue of the medical journal Pediatrics found that kids who took part in regular exercise showed an enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. Improvements were seen in the areas of resisting distraction and maintaining focus, working memory as well as cognitive flexibility.

While the news of exercise’s value is hardly a shocking revelation to most—it’s happiness-inducing endorphins are an established fact—Donnelle Super, a therapist at Stairways Behavioral Health’s Child and Family Outpatient Clinic can attest to the positive impact activity has on kids. Super, an exercise enthusiast and local triathlete who also coaches a local elementary cross country team, said the difference with kids who exercise regularly is noticeable.

“I see with the kids I work with that it not only helps with reducing stress but it helps with their social skills and self-esteem,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard for kids to get started on a program, but once they do, they seem to really like it.”

Super also sees exercise’s beneficial qualities extend to the adults she treats, who report greater socialization and reduced stress, sometimes to a visible degree.

“One woman walks up a hill for her exercise and socialization, another guy uses it to control his anger,” she said. “It’s hard to measure because mental health in general is hard to measure, but you can see improvements sometimes just by their physical appearance.”

While Super notes the qualitative nature of mental health and the effects of exercise, another study published in the October Journal of Abnormal Psychology produced evidence that kids who took part in a 12-week exercise program enjoyed better math and reading scores. The improvements were especially pronounced among children with signs of ADHD.

Even very light physical activities improve mood and cognitive performance by prompting the brain to release dopamine and serotonin in a manner similar to the way stimulant medications act.

As more research is discovered, more evidence of exercise’s benefits emerges that establishes a critical link between taking a jog, riding your bike or swimming a few laps and improved mental capacity and mood.

Stairways to hold second annual Tread on Stigma

Friday, September 05, 2014

Do your part to help stomp out the shame associated with mental illness by taking part in Stairways Behavioral Health’s second annual Tread on Stigma for Wellness Saturday, Sept. 27 at Presque Isle State Park.

Tread on Stigma is an untimed 5k run/walk for employees, clients and friends of Stairways aimed at addressing wellness, building comradery and as a way to raise awareness about the mental and physical illnesses that afflict the people we serve.

Participants can form a team, set a fundraising goal and raise money by procuring sponsorships. Registration is $15 per person, while kids 12 and under walk for free.

Registration for the walk will begin at 8 a.m. with the walk following at 9 a.m. at the Erie Runners’ Club Pavilion at Beach 1. Prizes will be awarded following the conclusion of the event.

The walk will support the Client Wellness Fund, which benefits Stairways’ clients in there wellness pursuits by helping purchase items such as gym memberships, sneakers and nutritional activities.

To register, please visit www.stairwaybh.org/walk.

Erie Gives 2014 approaching

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Remember Stairways Behavioral Health on Aug. 12!

Potential for change and growth lives within us all. Sometimes we need help to bring out that development and greater sense of personal fulfillment we all desire.

On August 12, Stairways Behavioral Health will need your help to make personal wellness a reality for all when it participates in the fourth annual Erie Gives, a day designated for philanthropic donations to non-profit organizations in Erie.

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., donors can visit www.eriegives.org or call 814-454-0843 to make a donation of $25 or more by using Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards. Stairways will then receive a prorated percentage of the $200,000 in matching funds contributed by the Erie Community Foundation, GE Transportation and Erie Insurance based on how much it collects in donations.

Stairways, which raised $5,580 for the Client Wellness fund in 2013, will again focus this year’s contributions toward its personal wellness efforts, which support individuals in their wellness initiatives by providing resources like nutritional activities, new sneakers and fitness memberships.

"Riding bikes, going to the Y and fishing with our kids are all things we love to do," said Kim Stucke, chief development officer at Stairways. "You can help make someone else have this special feeling by contributing to Stairways on Erie Gives." 

In keeping with our wellness initiatives, donations will also help fund programs at BLOOM Collaborative, 138 E. 26th St. 

BLOOM’s classes and experiences are dedicated to promoting growth and positive change—for individuals, groups and neighborhoods within Erie and surrounding communities. BLOOM offers services and programs meant to foster holistic health and well-being such as art, nutrition, gardening, yoga and meditation.

Improved well-being is the key to healthier people and a healthier community – and a cause Stairways Behavioral Health and BLOOM Collaborative are committed to achieving.

Visit online at www.BLOOMCollaborative.org for more information and remember us on Erie Gives Day, August 12. All donations to Stairways Behavioral Health will be used to expand wellness activities through BLOOM Collaborative.

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