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Chinese Medicine rejuvenates, offers health alternatives

Course brings wellness choices to student body

By Christian Urrutia, staff photographer
On October 24, 2012

For students enrolled in Chinese Medicine for Preventative Health/Addiction Issues in the Helping Professions, health and human services professor John Kokko presents to them an alternative picture of health that can be applied to everyday life.
"This class is about (students) taking care of themselves and each other in really helpful, practical ways and to view complementary and holistic medicine as a career," Dr. Kokko said.
Chinese Medicine in the fall 2012 course schedule is an elective in the health and human services department, but is not required in order to obtain a certificate within the program.
Bette Stephenson, a health and human services major said, "We learn various acupressure points that help with neck, back, lower and upper body pain, very vital points to relieve.
"I think (this information) is very important to students for their health and to be able to take better care of themselves," she said.
"You learn to have mental balance and how to alleviate some stress (in life) and other mental ailments."
She also said students learn various resources that Chinese medicine incorporates, such as different teas for antioxidant levels and a nutritional diet that suggests staying away from processed foods.
Because of California's looming budget crisis HHS-100K may be cut from the CCC course schedule for the 2013-14 academic year.
"Originally the Chinese Medicine class was folded into our Perkins CTE grant. We no longer have the grant," human services department Chairperson and professor Aminta Mickles said.
The Carl D. Perkins 2008-2012 Act, as stated on the Contra Costa College website, allows the college to receive federal funds annually to support career and technical education programs. Professor Mickles said, "Currently all of the classes in our certificated program (are) mandatory for the completion of the certificates.
"The Chinese Medicine class is not and we are holding out to find out what may happen with the budget," she said.
Whether or not the outcome of Proposition 30 on the Nov. 6 election results in the allocation of funds to allow the course to be offered for another semester, Kokko said that he hopes his students get the message about the class, which is about transforming one's self, maintaining well-being and sharing the information with others.
He also said, "If we can show people how to eat, sleep, breathe, move, meditate and smile then there would be very little disease on this planet. Most stress comes from loneliness and (being) out of touch with Mother Nature and one's own inner nature."
Kokko is a licensed acupuncturist at the Turtle Island Integrative Health Clinic in Berkeley, which he owns and operates.
He said the topics covered in class are not readily available elsewhere.
He said one would have to go to a costly acupressure school to learn the knowledge regarding the different acupuncture points on the body.
The course meets on Tuesdays from 9:10 a.m. to noon and usually at the end of the class session, students in PS-113 relocate to the Amphitheatre to perform Qigong.
Each student stands apart from others forming a circle, and then later pairing up.
Next, everyone follows exercises led by David Wei, an international wellness coach who works professionally with Kokko.
"I grew up locally in Richmond and went to CCC. I had taught (Qigong) here last year and Dr. Kokko suggested I come back again," Wei said.
"(Qigong) is a fundamental principle of wellness."
Students mostly perform Qigong, which is a Chinese system of breathing exercises, body postures and movements.
Switching to simple cardio exercises afterward, the students do more Qigong to regulate the breath and finish with self-massage to get in touch with their bodies.
The ancient practice of Tai Chi is also talked about in class, particularity concentrating on the push hands technique.
Master Tai Chi instructor Marilyn Cooper said, "This class helps me to stay a well-rounded Tai Chi instructor."
Cooper said she had filled in for a colleague teaching push hands and Kokko invited her to come and sit in on his class.
"Chinese medicine has a huge body of knowledge and Tai Chi is one facet of the way Chinese doctors heal their own patients.
"(Students) learn how to manage their health, which is a huge benefit, and learn about diets, massages, acupuncture and a much more holistic (view) of health," she said.


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