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D'Vine Path students learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle

FALLBROOK – With the challenges faced during 2020, self-care has not been a priority for everyone. Many people had to put their own needs on hold in order to take care of loved ones suffering from COVID-19, run errands for at risk family members and friends, help children conduct online school, adjust to working from home, and there was little to no time for exercise or healthy eating.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the stress associated with COVID-19 has caused a spike in mental health problems, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. However, these can be combated through healthy eating and exercising regularly.

D'Vine Path, a vocational training program for disabled adults, has been actively combatting the health issues caused by COVID-19 by teaching its students how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Executive director of D'Vine Path, Lenila Batali is passionate about helping the students with not only vocational skills to help them find a job, but also teaching the students life skills so they can be healthy and successfully adapt to new situations.

"Here at D'Vine Path, we're committed to helping students, beyond teaching vocational skills," Batali said. "We also teach them how to lead healthy lifestyles, because without a healthy lifestyle you will not be as successful in a job or career. We teach our students about how important it is to take care of themselves and stay healthy so they can succeed in leading healthy and happy lives."

To teach the students different exercises and stretches, retired fireman, certified TRX trainer, EMT, and wellness trainer Derek Wilson has started teaching lessons to D'Vine Path students once a month. He has been teaching students how to exercise using TRX bands, which help with upper body strength, core strengthening and endurance.

Wilson is highly experienced in this field, and his lessons have been beneficial to the students and their health.

As the students are eager to learn how to take better care of themselves, they are all attentive and enthusiastic during Wilson's lessons. Along with TRX band exercises, Wilson has also been teaching the students breathing exercises for each different activity and fire safety in kitchens to go along with their culinary training.

D'Vine Path is also working to teach its students about healthy eating with the help of Michelle Verdugo, the owner of Organic Suites.

Verdugo has been working with D'Vine Path since 2020, and she has been teaching lessons about the benefits of healthy eating, how to make healthy snacks, and smoothie making. Last year, Verdugo was able to get blenders donated from Target to help students at D'Vine Path. Now, the students are using their blenders often and using recipes taught by Verdugo.

Recently, Verdugo taught the students about replacement foods in smoothies. Instead of adding chocolate to their smoothies, they added coconut flakes, raisins, and walnuts. These are healthy alternatives that will add texture to the smoothie as well as flavor. The students were very receptive, and they were excited to learn a new healthy recipe. They plan to continue working on replacing unhealthy foods in their smoothies with healthier alternatives.

Verdugo has also been teaching the students about sugar intake and how sugar can negatively affect them. For example, she has encouraged the students to drink coconut water instead of Gatorade or soda because of the amount of sugar in the drinks. This type of encouragement has helped the students learn about the effects of sugar and how much sugar is healthy.

Along with exercise and healthy eating lessons, D'Vine Path students participate in daily yoga and meditation classes, as well as their morning vineyard walk. These activities motivate the students to stay active and continue working towards a healthier lifestyle. Calming activities like meditation and yoga are used at D'Vine Path to help with mental health and stability.

Learning about healthy eating and healthy living has been beneficial to the students, it has helped to reduce stress and negative thoughts, and they are feeling more confident in their ability to maintain their health.

After learning about healthy lifestyles through D'Vine Path's lessons and experienced guest speakers, the students are all highly motivated and excited to learn more about how they can take care of themselves and their health.

By offering these students the opportunity to learn more about leading a healthy lifestyle, D'Vine Path has established a foundation for the students to continue being conscious about their health throughout their lives.future.

The Fallbrook Regional Health District provided the grant that funds the healthy lifestyle curriculum and makes these opportunities possible for D'Vine Path students.

To learn more about D'Vine Path, visit

Submitted by D'Vine Path.


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