Wendy Malloy
Pacific Science Center, Seattle
(206) 443-2879 wmalloy@pacsci.org

Professor Wellbody's Health & Wellness Academy Opens in 2012

SEATTLE - Pacific Science Center is developing an innovative and highly immersive new exhibit, Professor Wellbody's Health & Wellness Academy, which is scheduled to open in December, 2012. Exhibit guests will be encouraged to get their game on in the Fitness Play Zone, dodge flying particles at the Sneeze Wall, glimpse their future self with the interactive aging software and climb musical stairs to a second floor of discovery. Professor Wellbody's Health & Wellness Academy will bring guests of all ages into the imaginative world of Professor Wellbody, demonstrating how personal choices can positively affect our health and well-being. Six-thousand square feet of hands-on inventions, gadgets, activities and experiences will present health as a life-long process of balancing exercise, diet, proper rest and hygiene. These tools and resources for managing health and well-being will help guests discover the control each of us has over many aspects of our wellness.

"We face a constant and changing stream of research on do's and don'ts around our health and wellness," said Bryce Seidl, Pacific Science Center president and CEO. "As the region's neutral convener for health education and dialogue, Wellbody's Academy will be the ideal backdrop for the community to come together for discovery and discussion in a friendly setting."

This is the Science Center's first new permanent exhibit in more than a decade. It will address individual and community health and well-being at a time when preventable conditions such as obesity, and chronic diseases like Type II diabetes are on the rise and access to healthcare is a growing concern.

This new exhibit exemplifies how Pacific Science Center is transforming itself for the future--becoming a more vital connection for the public with current scientific research and discoveries. In Professor Wellbody's Health & Wellness Academy, the Northwest Focus Gallery will give guests the opportunity to learn about healthcare careers and current health, wellness and life science research taking place in our region. By integrating this kind of rotating and regionally relevant programming into a fun and dynamic environment, the Science Center will bring science to life in new and innovative ways.

"With our 50th anniversary in 2012, we're already planning for our next half-century of service to this region and beyond," Seidl said. "Our plans will become tangible as we bring new experiences like the groundbreaking new Professor Wellbody's Health & Wellness Academy exhibit to life."

The development of the exhibit's concept and content is the result of extensive research, planning, and imagination--including significant volunteer input from community leaders and nationally-recognized experts in health care.

Because the exhibit will help improve life-long health behaviors in our region, it has been enthusiastically embraced by the healthcare community.

Given its long-standing focus on health promotion and improvement, Group Health Cooperative stepped forward to provide the Science Center with a generous planning grant to help develop the exhibit concept.

"Since 1947, Group Health has focused on helping to improve the health of our patients and of the communities we serve," said Group Health President & CEO Scott Armstrong. "Helping the Science Center bring Professor Wellbody's Health & Wellness Academy to life is a natural extension of our mission to help people in their journey to lead the healthiest, best life possible."

Group Health was the first to provide a leadership gift, followed by a $1 million challenge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation contributed $500,000 to the exhibit immediately, with the balance contingent on Pacific Science Center reaching its fundraising goals by August 2011.

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation challenge grant paves the way for others in the healthcare community to step up and join the project," said Seidl.

The Science Center, along with its key supporters, is committed to making science accessible and inspiring for people of all ages and stages in life.

Additional early support has come from Public Health - Seattle & King County, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, First Choice Health Network, Amgen and Bastyr University.

"We are thrilled by the very generous support of all those who have stepped forward to be our partners in this endeavor," said Seidl. "We look forward to continuing to grow the community of sponsors and partners, especially among others in the healthcare field - who can take advantage of the challenge grant and make this exciting exhibit a reality."

Serving approximately one million guests on site and more than 300,000 students and teachers throughout Washington state each year, Pacific Science Center is the ideal venue for outreach to the broader public about health and wellness.

Since the Science Center opened in 1962, it has been a leader in inquiry- based interactive science education. As an independent not-for-profit institution, Pacific Science Center inspires lifelong interest in science, math and technology by engaging diverse communities through interactive and innovative exhibits and programs.

For more information on the exhibit and how to get involved, contact Jannine Koewler at (206) 443-3643 or jkoewler@pacsci.org.