One of the great pleasures of working in community outreach and cancer education is the opportunity to build partnerships with tribal communities, including the Chehalis Tribe, who are invaluable partners in our cancer prevention efforts. Two members of Native People for Cancer Control (NPCC) – Colleen Echohawk (Community Outreach Manager) and Lanesse Baker (Research Core Lead) – recently staffed a table at the Chehalis Health Fair, which was held in the new and beautiful community center on the Chehalis Reservation. The event was well attended, with more than 174 people and 56 vendor tables participating.

The NPCC table was stocked with brochures and other information about cancer prevention, with special attention to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Young women asked us several questions about the vaccine and their potential risk of cervical cancer, and we were happy to provide all the information they needed. We also assured worried parents that the HPV vaccine is very safe and capable of saving lives. As part of our outreach activities, we displayed a “wellness tree,” which is an image of a tree printed on a laminated banner. We gave health fair attendees paper leaves and asked them to write down the wellness activities that they already practice, as well as the activities that they would like to incorporate into their lives in the future.

Here is a sample of what they wrote:

  • Eat less processed food
  • Exercise and read every day
  • Be more active with my kids
  • Do craft work or basket weaving
  • Play outside for 60 minutes daily, spend less time playing video games, get more sun
  • Spend more time just relaxing
  • Walk daily
  • Say morning prayers/spirituality
  • Walk to work instead of driving
  • We find that the wellness tree is a great way to begin discussions. In particular, asking people to write down their wellness activities is an important part of helping them to put new wellness plans into practice.

Members of the NPCC staff look forward to attending this event next year. We are grateful for the amazing work of Christina Hicks, a member of the Chehalis Tribe and the Community Health Coordinator, who coordinated this fun and educational event.