News: Know Your Healthy Living Expert
Story by Lance Cpl. Uriel Avendano
YUMA, Ariz. - New Year’s resolutions and a blind promise to live better and eat healthier always go hand-in-hand. The award winning health promotions program at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma provides Marines, Sailors and family members with a valuable resource for the better quality of life everyone seeks on the first of January.
The health promotions program’s team effort and hard work was recognized earlier this year by the Navy Surgeon General’s Blue H Award for health and wellness promotion. The annual distinction took into account the programs’ overall performance in various aspects including, but not limited to, health promotions and partnerships in the community, alcohol and drug abuse prevention services, online distance learning, identifying and focusing on the installations particular needs, program effectiveness, variety in training and up-to-date staff capabilities.
Championed by Marine Corps Community Services’ health program coordinator and wellness expert, Nikki Dallam.
“I grew up in Sacramento, CA. It’s similar to Yuma in how it gets really hot during the summer,” said Dallam. “I played softball year-round and basketball for eleven or twelve years.”
Dallam grew up in a very happy and loving family of four, her only sibling being a younger sister. She gravitated towards sports from an early age and played competitively; all the while managing her preparatory school studies.
After 17 or 18 years in Sacramento, Dallam moved down to Los Angeles to study at the University of Southern California.
“In college, I did play a little intramural sports, but mainly studied about exercising and physiology for my major in kinesiology,” said Dallam. “I really wanted to learn about educating people about being healthy.”
The study of kinesiology included classes that covered athletic training, nutrition, physiology, exercise application, and then some. Dallam graduated in from USC in 2007.
“From there, I moved to San Diego and then travelled to the East coast to be with my husband,” said Dallam, also a wife of a Marine. “Now, years later, I’m down here in Yuma.”
With both her educational background and professional experience, Dallam applied for an opening at MCAS Yuma’s Semper Fit Health Promotions Program in August of 2011 and became the health program coordinator in July of this year.
“It’s been a lot of fun. We have a lot of similarities between us because we’re passionate about what we do, but on a personal side, too – We’ve become good friends,” said Brittany D’Amico, an MCCS Semper Fit health education technician and a native of Scottsdale, Ariz. “Having someone who’s in the same field as you and is as interested in it as you makes work all that much better.”
As she gained more and more experience, Dallam has also learned a lot about the other aspects of health. For example, stress and weight management, tobacco cessation, injury prevention and how to better the overall quality of living for the on-base community.
“We give them a baseline value of their fitness level,” said Dallam. “We keep records of their progress so they can see the improvement they’ve made over time.”
As Yuma’s health promotion coordinator, Dallam and her team are also responsible for scheduling annual training Marines have to go through. They head fitness briefs, injury prevention training and wellness assessments like aerobic capacity, strength evaluations and measuring body fat percentage.
“This year we’ve definitely expanded the amount of services and offerings we have available to Marines and their families,” said Dallam. “We’ve expanded to working with the commissary, doing healthy commissary tours regularly or by request by units, cooking classes and our Nutrition 101 series that goes on every other month. Those things weren’t in place in 2011, so we’ve definitely grown.”
The year of 2012 will see the health promotions team vying for another coveted Blue H award. With Dallam at the helm, MCAS Yuma can rest assured that any and all health and wellness related questions or concerns will be met with the utmost motivation and professionalism.
“Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard. It’s the little changes over time that really creates a healthier person,” said Dallam. “Every New Year we have a resolution to be more active or eat healthier, but it’s by making the small changes every day that will build up and make a healthy person.”
For any questions or to set up an appointment, Health Promotions can be reached at (928) 269-6642. Or reach out via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.