Libraries are near-silent sanctuaries best used for reading, scholarly research and quiet reflection, right? Well, not always. The Torrance Public Library is about to change that notion over the coming months with the introduction of its “Get Moving. Get Informed. Get Healthy!” Project (called the GET Project).
The new health-focused program, which kicked off in September, features free teen Wii dance events; preschool story and healthy snack times; and calorie-blasting workouts for parents, among other programs—all held at the main library and its various branches.
“We and our partners are hoping to change the image of the library from just a static building,” explains Evan Coates, senior librarian and project coordinator. “We’re hoping that through the GET Project, people will see the library as a place to get information that will help them change their lives.” The program runs through May 2015 with events at the main library and its five branches.
The GET Project was created in response to a recent medical report that raised concerns about South Bay residents’ access to reliable health information. The report, called the Community Health Needs Assessment 2013, was prepared by Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Among its findings: Many South Bay residents don’t know about all the resources for taking care of their health that are available to them within the community.
“The library saw itself meeting a need in the community that wasn’t being met by other organizations,” Coates says. “Because we’re an informational institution and because people come to us to understand their bodies and the world of health, we’re especially well-equipped to give them health information in a non-biased way.” Coates secured a $5,000 grant from the California State Library to fund the project.
About 50 health- and fitness-minded programs are planned over the coming months as part of the GET Project, thanks to the work of Coates and the library’s community partners: Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Torrance Certified Farmers Market, Foundation for Wellness Professionals, H.E.L.P. (Healthcare and Elder Law Professionals), Torrance-South Bay YMCA and the Friends of the Torrance Library.
“All of us at H.E.L.P. are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the Torrance Library as part of the GET Project by providing a series of community classes focused on health and wellness issues,” says Britt Huff, executive director of H.E.L.P.
Also featured are free flu-shot clinics at the library, and the YMCA will offer busy parents options for 15-minute workouts that will fit into their day. Preschoolers can listen to a story book reading and then prepare their own healthy snack with fresh foods supplied by the City of Torrance Farmers’ Market.
Says Joyce Chan, manager of the farmers market, “We think that through the city of Torrance Library’s GET Project: A Heathier Family Initiative, healthy eating changes will be implemented and will last recipients for a lifetime.” The market will also offer talks on selecting seasonal produce and a class on how to pickle vegetables and fruits.
The GET Project will conclude on May 9, 2015 with a Healthy Family Field Day, including traditional field day activities and sample sessions of popular class offerings, such as Zumba. Talks on senior health and homeopathy are also on tap.
“It’s wonderful to have the Torrance Library System educating the public on how to make healthier choices to live a better and more enriched life,” says Judy Kim, a local volunteer representative for the Foundation of Wellness Professionals and office manager of the Family Acupuncture Clinic in Torrance.
Some research shows that it takes about 30 days to form a healthy habit. “By giving the community nine months to work with the GET Project, we hope it’ll go a long way toward helping South Bay residents make healthy habits at home and stick to them,” Coates says.
For more information on the GET Project and its events and programs, call the Torrance Public Library at 310-618-5959 or go to torranceca.gov/library.