Family on the Move - Hozelleeh Denh Center Opening

Contributed by: Family on the Move
Date: 9/19/05
The Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) Diabetes Program has long envisioned a space of fun exciting movement, which the Alaska Native People will identify as ’our own’! A special space filled with the sounds and sights of ’people on the move’. This space will be a place where people will say ’Wow’; "Yea! Together we made this happen." We finally have a place where we have opportunity to participate with family, among friends, with each other - a place where people will want to gather - a place where spirits are lifted, through the joy of motion, and getting healthier with the confidence of increased physical strength and total wellness. This center is supported by strong evidence that there is a commitment from the community to have a place of their own for opportunities for physical activity, and will be a space of physical activity that will be filled with the sounds and sights of ’people on the move’. The new Lifestyle center is supported by the TCC Diabetes program who will be providing leadership, equipment, and classes, and is for the benefit of TCC beneficiaries and employees. Ideas for a name for the special space poured in from the TCC region. President Buddy Brown responded, and from this day forward this new center shall be called Hozelleeh Denh (Athabascan - place we exercise).

The first announcement of this Proposed Project was November 27, 2002. This project established a Fairbanks-area Native-Community Lifestyle Center for the purpose of reducing the health risks associated with inadequate physical activity and/or enjoy the spiritual and mental rewards associated with achieving high levels of physical fitness. The TCC Diabetes Program developed a Physical Activities Grant program that offers funds to each village within the TCC region to support Physical Activities promotion for residents of all ages. Villages were given the opportunity to upgrade existing recreation facilities or devise new programs supporting regular, recurring Physical Activities for their community. Each community is unique, the physical activity projects that were funded were planned and implemented by those that know the community best, the village councils. We are very proud of how much we have accomplished together in improving opportunities for physical activity within our Villages. TCC has invested a total of $1,302,347.00 since 2000 outside the Fairbanks area to support this program.

Sarah Vent RN, CDE, Josephine Malemute, RN,
TCC Diabetes Program Coordinator, Dr. Julian Naylor,
Alaska Region Diabetes Director, and TCC
President Buddy Brown
An initial step for the Lifestyle Center project is to recommend the establishment of a Committee. The "Physical Activity Advisory Committee" will be responsible for assisting with oversight, to plan and propose future enhancements. The committee will follow this program for quality controls checks as demonstrated by the Headquarters of Indian Health Services (IHS). In June 2002 President Bush released the Healthier US workforce initiative requiring government agencies to report health promotion activities available for their employees. Following this initiative, IHS piloted the "Take Charge Challenge" in the fall of 2002. As a response to this initiative, proposed center committee members would undertake steps to implement a workplace fitness challenge. Various team captains would be selected, and the committee could recruit teams from their areas.


TCC remodeled approximately 4,000 square feet of the east wing of the basement in the Chief Peter John Tribal Building, located at 122 1st Avenue. Funding for the physical activities center is a joint venture of TCC and SDPI. The space will house a complete wellness circuit of Nautilus Nitro stations, treadmills, elliptical, spinners and recumbent and upright bikes, and an open floor exercise area: The primary focus of the new center will be to provide an opportunity for the community to improve their cardiovascular & muscular endurance, and flexibility. The center will have equipment for exercising major muscle groups; an open space, exercise mats, aerobic-steps, individual and/or video lead solo or group activities, and other fun filled group activities. Physical fitness provides much more than just disease control. It also promotes increased well-being with a sense of personal accomplishment and increased ability to manage the stresses of everyday life. A physical activity regimen will not only improve the quality of life among the TCC health Beneficiaries, but also improve the working environment for TCC employees.

Dr. Judith Steyer leading spinning session
In summary, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". So simple, so true. Prevention of chronic disease and early detection of chronic illness is an emphasis of TCC Health Services. Diabetes, along with many other chronic diseases, can be avoided, delayed, or reduced in terms of severity of complications through regular exercise and balanced nutritious meals. The TCC Diabetes Program plans to continue the Village Physical Activity Project Grants that promote regular, recurring physical activity as a common thread in the promotion of well being and reducing the level of risk for developing chronic disease. Many innovative projects in the villages got started or received a healthy financial boost from these grants. The new centrally located physical activities centers in the villages are able to support group and individual training needs of Alaska Natives as we continue to develop and improve Village physical activity opportunities. The new center located in Fairbanks will provide the same opportunities. We appreciate your support of these programs as we continue to work to improve the opportunities for physical activity throughout the TCC Region.
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