Classes for All Ages

Kids aren’t the only ones going back to school this fall. When it comes to personal health and wellbeing, one thing is true of everyone; there's always room for improvement. Local organizations offer lots of classes you can take to improve your health, decrease your likelihood of being diagnosed with a chronic condition, or manage a chronic condition better. Take a look at the offerings below to see how these classes can help you improve your health and the health of your family.

FreshStart Help to Quit Smoking

In the American Cancer Society’s FreshStart Group Tobacco Cessation Program, you will find that you are not alone. Many people just like you are trying to quit smoking. Attending group sessions greatly increase your chances of success. In addition to proven strategies, this class offers free nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges for those who register and attend. Classes are 12 – 1 p.m. and 4 – 5 p.m. each Tuesday at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Call 802-440-4098 to register.

Chronic Pain Management

Long-term health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, and persistent pain do not have to rule your life. You can gain control of your symptoms with humor and grace by attending this class. This free workshop will help you stay optimistic; cope with loss, frustrations, and fear; manage pain; de-stress, relax, and beat fatigue; reduce depression; improve self-confidence; and communicate better with family and health care providers. You will also receive a free book and CD to help you learn beneficial habits. Fall classes are forming in Manchester and Townshend, VT. Advanced registration is required. For more information and to sign up, contact Kathy Dockum at 802-440-4098 or

YMCA Diabetes Prevention

If your primary care provider has told you that you have prediabetes or if you are overweight, you might benefit from a new class to prevent diabetes. This class shows you how to incorporate healthier habits into your lifestyle. These changes may help delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. Contact Kathy Dockum at 802-440-4098 or for information about getting a referral to join.

Fitness Classes & Gym Memberships

For Vermont women over the age of 21 who meet specific income guidelines, there’s Ladies First. In addition to prompting you to get your regular health screenings and monitor your heart health, Ladies First offers free gym memberships and access to fitness classes for women 30 to 65. Contact Cindy at 802-447-3700 ext. 4 or for more information.

Support for Cancer Survivors

The Cancer Center at Southwestern Vermont Health Care offers Qi gong and yoga classes for cancer patients and members of their support teams. These classes help many cope with the stress of their diagnosis and restore a sense of calm and confidence. For more information, contact Rebecca at 802-440-4244 or

For New Parents and Grandparents

The Women’s and Children’s Services team at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center offers many classes for new parents and grandparents. Regular offerings include classes that help the caregivers of newborns prepare for childbirth, transition to home, breastfeed successfully, and learn infant and child CPR. For more information about these offerings, call the Women’s and Children’s Services department at 802-447-5160.

Your primary care provider can share information about these offerings and other educational opportunities available locally and even right in your provider’s office. Talk with your provider to see what you can do to improve your health this fall individually or in a group class.

Jennifer Fels, MS, RN, is the director of Bennington Blueprint. For more information, contact “Health Matters” is a column meant to educate readers about their personal health, public health matters, and public policy as it affects health care. For more about upcoming classes and events—including playgroups, support groups, and much more—visit For more stories like this one, visit