Children participate in learning activities during the Play-Learn-Grow health fair as part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America’s I Want to Grow Healthy health initiative taking place across Adventist schools in North Mexico. The event drew more than 6,000 school-aged children, teachers and parents to celebrate in Baja California, Mexico, Mar. 7, 2020. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

March 24, 2020 | Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

More than 6,000 Seventh-day Adventists across North Mexico recently gathered in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, to celebrate the success of the church’s I Want to Live Healthy initiative and its impact among children and adults across the region.

The event drew more than 3,000 school children and adolescents who took part in a special worship service and a special health fair at the Baja California Rosario Convention Center, on Mar. 7, 2020. The event highlighted the eight natural remedies—air, rest, water, exercise, self-control, nutrition, sunshine, and trust in God—that the health initiative promotes in its program designed for schools coined as I Want to Grow Healthy.

L-R: Dr. Roel Cea, health ministries director for the church in North Mexico, Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for  Inter-America, Norma Villegas, education director in North Mexico and Faye Patterson, associate education director in Inter-America. Their joint efforts have led the health initiative to engage thousands of students at Adventist schools and children in local churches across Mexico and across Inter-America. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

Health initiative in schools

“This is an historic moment to see this first such health event coined from the ‘I Want to Grow Healthy’ program,” said Roel Cea, MD, health ministries director for the church in North Mexico. The day’s program was meant to reaffirm in children and adolescents the need to develop strong healthy habits and values, as part of a larger strategy to a faithful and missionary-oriented generation, said Cea. “We want to help the children, adolescents, and young people of our church develop their body, mind and soul to become a healthy generation,” he added. Youngsters took part in the what has been coined as the ‘Play-Learn-Grow’ fair.

The I Want to Grow Healthy program has spread to 37 Adventist schools across the North Mexico Union, reported Cea. Twenty-six of those schools have been validated as certified health promoting schools by the government. Cea said that the first school to be validated as a healthy school under the I Want To Grow Healthy program was Francisco Madero de Ensenada Adventist School in Baja California.

The day was not only celebrated in Baja California but across churches in North Mexico as well, church leaders said.

Children from the Ensenada 14 Adventist Church in Baja California, Mexico,  sing together during the Sabbath morning worship service, at the Baja California Rosario Convention Center in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Mar. 7, 2020. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

An interactive health fair

Children and adolescent students attending the health fair visited eight different stations highlighting the eight natural remedies in the initiative where they could engage in numerous activities and games during the event. They took part in learning from nature, the laws of health, and learned to better understand the eight special gifts God has provided for health and wellness.

Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for the church in Inter-America, was overjoyed to see the efforts by leaders and members in growing the I Want to Live Health initiative.

“This is a dream come true and I feel the great support of this union and from the church in Baja California which has taken seriously the importance of raising a healthy generation,” said Archbold. “Children are eager to learn and what better time than now, when good habits and values can take root in their developing minds, to help them become a healthier, more faithful and mission-oriented generation.”

Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for the church in Inter-America, congratulates church leaders for their commitment in growing the I Want to Grow Healthy initiative throughout schools and churches in North Mexico. Pastor Arturo King (left) president of the church in North Mexico, Pastor Elie Henry (second left) president of the church in Inter-America, and Jose Santos Castañeda (right), director of religious affairs in Baja California, look on. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

Initially for children

Archbold explained that the I Want to Live Healthy initiative began as a program for children in 2009. Soon after parents became interested in learning more about the program and began asking questions, so the focus of the initiative turned more toward adults. By 2013, the initiative became an official program for the adult population, not so much focused on children.

“It was then that we decided to create a program that would designed specifically for children and adolescents,” she said. It was immediately accepted as health expo or a ‘Play-Learn-Grow’” health fair, that would allow children to learn more from nature, how God created the eight remedies or gifts, and also included some animals with specific characteristics that go with the those remedies.

Archbold was honored by top church leaders in North Mexico for her inspiration, motivation and creation of I Want to Grow Healthier program, which falls under Inter-America’s I Want to Live Healthy initiative.

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry delivers the sermon to more than 6,000 Adventists during the Sabbath morning worship service. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

Successful efforts in North Mexico

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry congratulated church leaders, teachers and students in Baja California and throughout North Mexico for their aggressive work in promoting and cementing a healthy lifestyle in dozens of schools and hundreds of communities.

“The values that you are promoting now is what is needed today,” said Pastor Henry. “We need to have men and women with sound physical, mental and spiritual lives that can continue reaffirming that this [health] initiative needs to start from very young children and young people who are at home, at school and in different parts of society.”

Pastor Henry encouraged leaders and teachers to continue dedicating time in all of their churches to “reaffirm that God has an ideal way for us to live as His children, not only in a healthy lifestyle but more so training children to have that trust and faith in God throughout their lives,” he said.

Children take part at a learning station during the health fair organized on Saturday afternoon. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

Activities of the health program

I Want to Grow Healthy initiative has four activity plans that can be used in schools, churches, as vacation bible schools and at home:

  • The five-day challenge that consists of daily activities that teach healthy habits and values for wellness, introducing the eight super health friends that help the body grow healthy.
  • Play-Learn-Grow is a health fair program for children where they learn the benefits of each super health friend with games and activities, and learning from certain animals.
  • I Want to Grow Healthy educational program, which includes a curriculum plan for schools to include a time to learn about each one of the organs and systems of the human body and the way in which the eight super healthy friends (or natural remedies) help their function.
  • Health education through sing-a-long songs for each of the 8 Super Healthy Friends with actions that explain healthy habits and values for children and adolescents.

I Want to Grow Healthy program has been promoted throughout Adventist churches and communities across the Inter-American Division territory.

Children participate during a special afternoon activity during the Play-Learn-Grow program. [Photo: Baja California Conference]

To learn more about the I Want to Live Healthy initiative, resources and activities, visit quierovivirsano.org

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