Lowell Wellness Camp Receives Hometown Health Hero Award

Photo courtesy Lowell Wellness Camp

Since 2018, the Lowell Wellness Camp has been teaching area students how to eat better, move more and smile often. Recently, the camp was honored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with a 2021 Hometown Health Hero Award.

“The Hometown Health Hero awards are a way we can recognize how both small and large efforts make a positive impact on our state,” said MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel in a press release. The awards were announced last week to coincide with Michigan Public Health Week.

“I’m thrilled to have been selected for a Hometown Health Hero award in 2021, particularly since there was immense competition in this year with the pandemic,” says Ranelle Brew, chair of the Department of Public Health at Grand Valley State University. Graduate students from the department oversee and run the Lowell Wellness Camp in conjunction with Lowell Community Wellness.

Middle school students in Lowell will have an opportunity to participate in this award-winning camp later this month as the Wellness Camp gears up for its summer session. That will run for three days from June 22-June 24. Spots are still available, and the camp is free to attend.

Unique Wellness Camp Addresses Lowell-Specific Needs

Photo courtesy Lowell Wellness Camp

Born out of the LoWellness Health Initiative, Lowell Wellness Camp was developed based on the findings of a 2016 survey of community members. That makes the program unique.

Rather than focus on generic wellness goals, the camp is tailored to address concerns of Lowell students who participated in the survey. That means talking about things such as energy drink consumption and sleep habits. What’s more, the Lowell Wellness Camp isn’t intended to push a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy living.

“This camp is a little different in that it’s about creating your own [path] for wellness,” says Jodie Seese, Wellness Camp director. “It’s a non-competitive, self-discovery model where you explore what you like in new foods, how to incorporate movement in your day and how to understand and manage your emotions.”

At a practical level, that means letting kids know that moving more doesn’t mean running for miles or playing sports. It can be walking to a friend’s house or hiking on the North Country Trail with family. During Lowell Wellness Camp, students are also introduced to foods with a variety of tastes and textures so they can decide what they like best. “It’s about expanding their knowledge through choices,” Seese says.

Graduate students from the GVSU public health program help lead breakout sessions during the camp, and they also bring a research component by measuring participants’ attitudes toward health both before and after each session.

“The vested interest in health overall in the Lowell community is very unique,” Brew says. “It’s refreshing to be in a sustainable partnership with Lowell residents and Lowell Community Wellness.”

Next Lowell Wellness Camp: June 22-24, 2021

Photo courtesy Lowell Wellness Camp


Lowell Wellness Camp has been previously offered at all LAS elementary schools and has been run once as a virtual program for middle school students during the pandemic. “Our program…didn’t miss a beat,” Brew says. “We turned in person camp into a virtual option and continued to serve in a time of tremendous change.”

Now, middle school students entering grades 6-8 have the opportunity to attend Lowell Wellness Camp in person. The camp will be held at Cherry Creek Elementary School from 10am-2pm on June 22, 23 and 24.

There is no cost to attend the camp, and it is open to any student who lives in the Lowell Area Schools district, regardless of the school they attend. Spots are limited to the first 20 students whose parents complete and submit all necessary documentation.

To register, contact Seese by sending an email to [email protected] or text or call 616-446-7058.

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