Help your kids celebrate International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 2


WalkToSchoolDay_HomepageMapNot too long ago, most of us walked or biked to school. But now, most kids arrive at school via their parents’ cars or school buses. Wednesday, Oct. 2, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren safely walk or bike to school on this day.

In 1970, more than half of all elementary school students ages 6-11 walked to school. By 2006, only 15 percent were walking to school. Alarmed by this trend, a group called the Partnership for a Walkable America started National Walk To School Day in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. In addition to expanding into several other countries, the dates also have expanded and October is International Walk To School Month.

“Walking or biking to school is an excellent way to add some physical activity into your day,” said Doug Osborne, a health educator with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “It can be a great way to start the day. Walking or biking can be a lot of fun. It’s also important to remember to be safe.”

WBTSD_12inch_ColorWalking or biking to school with their children is a good way for parents to catch up on what’s happening in their children’s lives. Other benefits to walking or biking to school include less traffic, cleaner air, and friendlier communities. Walking with their children is a good way for parents see if there are things along the route that can be done to improve safety, such as improving lighting, checking crosswalks and watching for aggressive pets along the route.

International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day is a great teaching tool for safety. Parents and teachers can teach the kids about road safety rules and the importance of being visible when they walk or bike alongside the roads. They also can check their kids’ clothes and backpacks to make sure they have reflective tape on them.

Why wearing white is not enough.

Reflective tape is particularly important as we enter the dark months of the winter. Students need to Be Safe, Be Seen, and reflective tape can make a big difference in their visibility. Not only are kids sometimes hard to be seen because they’re blocked by cars, but many cars in Southeast Alaska experience condensation problems during the fall and winter that make it hard to see through windshields. Reflective tape and blinking lights can make it so kids are seen hundreds of feet before they would be if they wore plain dark clothes. Parents can buy reflective tape from local sporting goods, fabric, and similar stores. Sometimes it’s available from local health organizations. The Center for Safe Alaskans (formerly known as the Alaska Injury Prevention Center) produced a YouTube video (also embedded below) that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see, and will have some free reflective tape available starting in October 2019.

To learn more about International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, contact your local school to see if any events are scheduled, or check with the Alaska Safe Routes To School program. The official International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day website also has a lot of information about how to set up an event for your school, including tool kits to help you arrange an event. Even if your kids don’t walk the entire way to school, you can drop them off a mile or so away and walk in with them. Many parents create walking school buses to bring several students who live in the same area to school together in one group.

SEARHC to host Fit Happens Step Challenge for Southeast Alaska walkers in August

Are you a Southeast Alaska walker who tries to get your 10,000 steps in every day? Are you interested in a challenge that might help you reach that goal?

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) health promotion program is hosting the Fit Happens Step Challenge during the month of August, and walkers can shoot for 100,000 or 200,000 steps during the month. If you meet your weekly goals, you might even win prizes.

How do you participate? Go to to register and download your step trackers. Then email your weekly step counts over the weekend to your local site leader, so you’re entered before each week’s drawing at noon on Monday (drawings start Monday, Aug. 12). There are weekly prizes for each division (100,000 steps and 200,000 steps), and a grand prize drawing at the end of the challenge.

“This is the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and build a new healthy habit,” Sitka health educator Heleena Van Veen said.

If you want to do more than walk, the step tracker sheets include step conversions for other healthy activities, such as gardening or cycling.

For more information, contact these local site leaders:

  • Haines – Pam Sloper | 907.766.6367 | pams@searhcorg
  • Juneau – Hannah Schlosstein | 907.364.4404 |
  • Kake – Monique Ybarra | 907.785.6514|
  • Klukwan – Joanne Spudd | 907.766.6319 |
  • Prince of Wales – Kelsey Evans | 907.755.4995 |
  • Sitka – Heleena van Veen | 907.966.8914 |
  • Wrangell – Hannah Schlosstein | 907.364.4404 |

SEARHC to host weekly lunch-time hikes at Sitka National Historical Park in September

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion program will hold weekly lunch-time hikes at Sitka National Historical Park during the month of September. SEARHC’s September Walking Club will meet from noon until 1 p.m. on Tuesdays to hike the totem trails.

The September Walking Club program is open to everybody in the community. Participants will receive a free pedometer to track their steps, a water bottle, and a lot of fun.

For more information, contact Heleena van Veen at 966-8914 or

Greater Sitka Arts Council to host annual Spring Art Walk on Friday, April 6

The Greater Sitka Arts Council will host its annual Spring Art Walk from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, April 6, at several businesses in downtown Sitka.

The free art walk will give people a chance to see new art work and visit with your neighbors. Don’t forget to pick up a passport and get it stamped at each participating business to possibly win a gift certificate for $100 to a local business.

Here are highlights from some of the participating businesses:

  • Baranof Elementary School, 305 Baranof St — Creative works by Baranof students including holiday ornaments available for purchase.
  • Southeast Alaska Career Center, 205 Baranof Street, between Pacific High School and Baranof School — Works by student artists from Blatchley Middle School, Sitka Native Education Program Culture Class and Sitka High School.
  • Sitka Rose Gallery, 419 Lincoln St. — Old and new wood engravings and original blocks by Eric Bealer from Pelican.
  • Keith Greba / Water Colors of Alaska, 407 Lincoln St. (Bayview Building) — Unique and original Alaskan artwork by Keith Greba.
  • Goldsmith Gallery, 407 Lincoln St # 100 (Bayview Building) — Get first dibs on new jewelry lines and works by local artists.
  • North Sisters Crepe and Juice Co., 327 Seward St #2 — Collaborative performance piece featuring creative movement by Kasey Davis, two-dimensional illustration by Sarah Lawrie, and video presentation by Stephen Lawrie. Featured showtimes occurring at 6 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:00 pm. Open reception beforehand from 5 to 6 pm.
  • Cabin Fever Gallery and Gifts, 321 Lincoln St. — Works including jewelry, cards, prints and original watercolors by artists Grace Harang, Kay McCarty, Kelly Goeden, Sandy Greba and Tracie Harang.
  • Artists Cove Gallery, 241 Lincoln St. — New wire-wrapped jewelry by Linda Wilson, jewelry by Katia Olivova, engraving by Pete Esquiro and Jennifer Younger, metal clay by JoElla Swanson, wood carving by Mark Sixbey, paintings by Libby Stortz and beading by Laura Kaltenstein, Fran Hartman and Cat Lieser.
  • Abby’s Reflection Apparel & Quiltworks, 231 Lincoln St. — Quilt making kits, new digitally printed quilting panels including images of Alaskan bear, eagles and wolves, Sitka Cancer Survivors’ Society 2018 raffle quilt and Bonnie Richards of SCSS featuring raffle tickets and connected prizes [raffle proceeds to benefit SCSS mini grant program]. Kathi Goddard, of Out On a Whim, offers new spring retro merchandise in her vintage collectible section within the store.
  • Island Artists Gallery, 205 B Lincoln St. — Featured works by artist Cara Murray and music by Summerfall. Additional highlights include beaded jewelry by Cass Pook, painted drums and beaded raven tail jewelry by Helen Mercado, wooden bowls by Zach LaPerriere, and tiled pieces and paintings on wood by Amy Sweeney.
  • Old Harbor Books, 201 Lincoln St. — “Fiber Friends: A Fiber Arts Exhibit.” A collection of weavings and textiles by local artisans using materials including wool, silk, and upcycled flannel sheets.
  • Backdoor Cafe, 104 Barracks St. — Limited edition hand printed block prints by Juneau artist Christine Kleinhenz.
  • Sitka Conservation Society, 201 Lincoln Street, Room 4 (Above Old Harbor Books) — Collection of local art including a preview of the award winning film, The Salmon Forest. Copies of the film will be available for purchase as well as SCS t-shirts, hoodies and bags. Parade of the Species costume creation activity offered from 5 to 7 pm.
  • Sitka Pioneers Home, 120 Katlian St. — Creative works by Pioneers Home residents.
  • Robertson’s Art Gallery and Custom Framing, 128 Lincoln St. — Works by Tom Crestodina, Rie Mumoz, Barbara Lavallee and Zach LaPerriere.
  • Sitka Flowers & The Chocolate Moose, 104 Lincoln St. — Jewelry by Jennifer Younger, floral wall backdrop and flower bouquets by Angela Ketah, and delicious chocolate and wine offerings.
  • City and Borough of Sitka William Stortz Gallery, 100 Lincoln St. — ‘Editorial Illustrations’, collection of acrylic paintings by D. Bennion.
  • BEAK Restaurant, 2 Lincoln St, Suite A — Original songs and covers by singer/songwriter and Sitka Winter Fellow Julia Carnes [two sets at 5:30-6:00 and 6:45-7:15]. Ceramics for sale by contemporary artist Liz Zacher. Photography for sale by local artist Bethany Sonsini Goodrich.
  • Mean Queen, 205 Harbor Dr., Downstairs — Kayak Shed Studios shares their latest photography collection in the venue’s lower level.

More galleries and artists may be added later. This event is sponsored by the Greater Sitka Arts Council, Alaska Airlines, the City and Borough of Sitka, and SEARHC. For more information, contact

Greater Sitka Arts Council to host annual Fall Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 24

The Greater Sitka Arts Council will host its annual Fall Art Walk from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24, at several businesses in downtown Sitka.

The free art walk will give people a chance to see new art work, visit with your neighbors, and maybe get an early gift idea for the holidays. Friday, Nov. 24, is a sales tax holiday in Sitka, so you won’t have to pay tax on any art you buy.

Here are highlights from some of the participating businesses:

More galleries and artists may be added later. This event is sponsored by the Greater Sitka Arts Council, Alaska Airlines, the City and Borough of Sitka, and SEARHC. For more information, contact

SEARHC to host Sitka Walk For Life on Saturday, April 15

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Suicide Prevention and Domestic Violence Prevention Programs will host the Sitka Walk For Life at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.

This event starts at the Crescent Harbor Shelter and ends at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi, where there will be a potluck, drumming and dancing by the Mount Edgecumbe High School Yup’ik Dancers, Sheet’ká Kwáan Dancers and the Haa Toowu Litseen Group.

In addition, there will be guest speakers and raffle drawings. Other groups participating in the event include Youth Advocates for Sitka, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), SEARHC Behavioral Health, and SEARHC Health Promotion.

For more information, contact Lanore Hahn at

SEARHC Health Promotion to host lunchtime walking group for heart health


searhc-logo-rgb-150-webThe SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion Program is hosting a lunchtime healthy lifestyle walking program from 12:15-12:45 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the main entrance of Sitka National Historical Park. This walking program was launched in celebration of American Heart Month in February.

Heart disease is the leading killer for men and women in the United States, and one in every four deaths each year is related to heart disease. Walking and similar healthy physical activity is a good way to reduce your risk for heart disease.

We’re “just trying to encourage physical activity for a healthy heart,” SEARHC Health Educator Heleena Van Veen said. The free walking program is open to all, and there is no target age group. For more information, contact Heleena at 966-8914 or

Seventh annual Sitka Health Summit helps celebrate a culture of wellness in Sitka

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The seventh annual Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and this year’s event features health fair, lunch-and-learn, community planning day and community wellness awards.

This annual event got its start in 2007, when leaders from Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) got together to try and build bridges between their health organizations. Working with other partners, they created the Sitka Health Summit as a way to help improve the health culture in Sitka.

Summit_LogoThis year’s summit opens with the Sitka Community Health Fair, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. This event features workers from the Alaska Health Fair Inc., who will provide a variety of medical tests such as cholesterol checks, glucose tests, vision screenings, flu shots, and more. It also includes informational booths from a variety of health-related programs in Sitka.

WalkLunchAndLearnAt noon on Monday, Sept. 23, at Kettleson Memorial Library will be a lunch-and-learn with Dr. Don Lehmann, a local physician and sports medicine specialist. He will give a brief talk called “Whistle While You Walk,” which will feature highlights about Sitka’s trail system. Participants can enter for a chance to win a set of walking sticks.

The “Community Planning Day: Selecting Sitka’s Wellness Goals” is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at Sweetland Hall. This all-day event is when members of the community get together and select two community wellness projects to work on this year. The two projects will receive $1,500 in seed money, plus facilitation to help get the project going. Last year’s three winning projects included the Sitka Downtown Revitalization project, Walk Sitka‘s work in applying for a Walk Friendly Communities award, and the Sitka Community Food Assessment. Some of the top projects from previous years include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community award applications in 2008 and 2012, the Choose Respect mural at Blatchley Middle School to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence, the Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition’s Get Out, Sitka! project to get more families and kids outdoors, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center as a community resource, etc. There also have been several projects related to local foods, such as creating a Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens and building a community greenhouse, planting dozens of fruit trees around town, promoting more local fish in school lunches, community composting,, and more. The first 65 people to RSVP will receive a free lunch (contact Clara Gray at

Finally, this year’s Sitka Community Wellness Champion Awards will be presented as part of the Monthly Grind at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi on Katlian Street. The awards are made in a variety of categories, such as physical fitness, nutrition, tobacco control and policy, holistic health, injury prevention, and general wellness.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or go to the Sitka Health Summit’s website at