How many times have you heard news headlines like: "Pesticides used on grocery store produce linked to cancer" or "Studies show increased aggression in children who play violent video games"?
Concerns such as these have led to a grassroots interest in holistic health practices and lifestyles among parents.
A holistic lifestyle is one wherein a person's mind, body and spirit are being nurtured in a healthy, positive environment. It focuses on alternative remedies, organic foods, education methods tailored to an individual's needs, and leisure activities that allow for exercise and connection with the natural world.
In 2002, a group of mothers in New Jersey began meeting to share their views on alternative parenting methods. The non-profit group - dubbed the Holistic Moms Network - blossomed into a nationwide network of women working together to provide their children with a bright, well-rounded future.
Awareness, education goals
In early June, a South Shore chapter of the Holistic Moms Network began meeting. The group is led by local chiropractor Cristina Ramirez.
"Basically the purpose of holistic moms is to generate awareness, education and support for the holistic lifestyle - to provide an environment and a community that is open minded, non-judgmental and respectful to people who share those ideals or those who want to learn more about that kind of lifestyle," Ramirez said.
For example, one topic the group may focus on is eating organically. In such a meeting, the members would each share ideas on ways to introduce natural, non-processed foods into children's diets.
At the next meeting in August, one of the members will discuss a Montessori program that she teaches.
Other topics include vaccinations, using alternative medicine in conjunction with traditional medicine, birthing options, breast feeding, and healing arts such as cranial sacral therapy.
Dads can join, too
To get involved, Ramirez encourages residents to simply show up for a meeting. Given the newness of the chapter, every meeting tends to have fresh faces, and the Holistic Moms are eager to acquaint newcomers.
"It's important for us to make people feel welcome," Ramirez said. "I think it is hard walking into an established group, although we're not really that established yet … so what we do in the meeting right away is discuss what Holistic Moms Network is all about and introduce each other."
The group is tailored toward mothers and fathers, but is open to anyone with an interest in holistic health. There are parents of school-age kids, mothers with babies, women in the planning and pre-natal stages, and people who want to share their holistic lifestyle experiences. Ramirez said the diversity lends richness to the group, and makes it a great source of information and support.
Benefits of membership
Upon choosing to officially join, members pay a $35 annual, tax-deductible fee, which goes toward marketing efforts, rent and the like. The group has nonprofit status.
Membership also gives access to the organization's private online forum, where members discuss topics and get tips from holistic moms all over the country.
"It's wonderful; you can search topics from people of all different walks of life and get lots of answers," Ramirez said. "It's very useful; I know it's helped me a lot."
Other perks include inclusion on the company's e-mail newsletter and special discounts on sponsor's products.
A typical meeting lasts about 90 minutes. Ramirez said they generally will have guest speakers and prepared topics for the first portion of a meeting. The latter part of the sessions generally opens up and members share experiences or ask questions.
The group is now deciding what topics and projects to tackle in the future. Ramirez said they've been contemplating a lending library or a book club plus possible play dates. They also are trying to find new ways to get the word out to parents about alternative health and lifestyle options.
"I think Bay View is a good fit for the Holistic Moms Network," Ramirez said. "There are a lot of young families and people that are interested in holistic health."
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At a glance
WHAT: The Holistic Moms Network
WHO: leader Cristina Ramirez
WHERE: 437 E. Lincoln Ave. (in the same space as Apple A Day Massage and Bay View Integrative Medicine)
WHEN: 6 p.m. the first Monday of each month
CONTACT: (414) 217-5040 or
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