Grassroots group promotes healthier, more fulfilled lifeLook around the table at the volunteer members of the Vitality Initiative committee and you’ll notice that representative from all walks of life are present.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Look around the table at the volunteer members of the Vitality Initiative committee and you’ll notice that representative from all walks of life are present.
An attorney, health professionals, real estate agents, business people, fitness professionals, school officials and more have been a part of the planning process that began more than a year ago. People of varying ages are also involved.
As the Vitality Initiative’s official kick-off approaches on Sept. 24, one thing unites the diverse group. All of the volunteers hope that the new organization will encourage everyone in the New Richmond area community to improve their health and well-being over the next 12 months.
It’s a goal borne out of a desire that everyone in the community live a long, healthy and fulfilling life. Ultimately, Vitality Initiative organizers hope the New Richmond area becomes known as one of the healthiest small towns in the nation.
The Vitality Initiative was organized after community members learned about progressive communities across the nation that had a similar goal and had some success in rallying people to commit to making better choices that promote health and wellness. Places like Albert Lea, Minn. and New Ulm, Minn. have come together as communities and made wellness a priority.
Over the next year, the New Richmond News will be offering a story per week on the topic of health and wellness. As the year progresses, local residents will get a better idea of what’s already available to them to achieve better health and wellness. New programs and activities that are developed by the Vitality Initiative will also be highlighted and promoted.
The stories will include the recounting of personal journeys that have led to better health for individuals, as well as the current research on what’s good and not so good for people.
Throughout the first year of the Vitality Initiative, organizers hope that businesses and individuals will see themselves as partners in the quest for community well-being. Restaurants, grocery stores, fitness facilities, health care organizations, schools, churches and all parts of the community will be sought as supporters and partners in the effort.
A few local folks are already convinced that New Richmond is ready for a coordinated project that promotes such ideals.
Jo Wrich, administrator of The Deerfield senior living community, said any effort aimed at improving the quality of life for people is something she likes to be involved in.
“I hopped on the Vitality band wagon because I saw it as a fresh new opportunity to collaborate with other community providers,” she said. “I am very excited to see how the vision of several different people, working as volunteers, has evolved into something that is uniquely developed for the New Richmond area.”
Linda Skoglund, owner of JA Counter Associates, said her hope is that the Vitality Initiative will make the New Richmond area “a better, stronger and more positive place to live.”
“I realize this begins from within each of us and the choices we make each day,” she said. “My involvement with the Vitality Initiative is to put my energy in to creating opportunities for people to engage in healthy, positive lifestyle choices that will make a difference in their lives and the lives of the people they are surrounded by.”
Lyle Orr, who is on a quest to return to a healthy life, said he hopes his story will inspire others to make positive choices to improve their wellness.
“I’ve learned so much there surrounding healthy living, fitness, nutrition and why everything I ever tried in the past did not work,” he said. “When people say they want to lose weight, the first thing from their mouth is how they need to ‘get to the gym.’ Sure, it is great but you need to lay the foundation by eating a calorie conscious, healthy diet.”
Being involved in the local project made sense for him.
“When I saw the Vitality Initiative for New Richmond, I was ecstatic,” he said. “Every community in this country is seeing more unhealthy people due to obesity and all related co-morbidities. We have so many great opportunities in our back yard to get out and move. We have a great community and when pulling together with so many businesses involved, this can be a great success.”
The Vitality Initiative is creeping closer to its launch event on Saturday, Sept. 24.
That day, New Richmond area residents are invited to come out at 7:30 a.m. for a bit of physical activity, a community photo and more.
The event is being run in conjunction with the 26th Annual Heritage Weekend Fall 5 Mile & 5K Run/Walk. The run/walk will begin promptly at 8 a.m. A kids’ race will be at 8:45 a.m.
There is a $15 fee for runners, $9 for walkers and $11 for kids. Those registered will receive a shirt as part of their fee. Those registering on the day of the race will pay $19 to run, $10 for walkers and $11 for kids. If participants don’t want a shirt, they can register for just $5.
But there will be a no-cost option for the morning as well. Dubbed the “Vitality walk,” people of all ages are welcome to participate in a one-mile stroll along Paperjack Creek’s trail.
Prior to setting out, the entire group will pose for a “community picture” that will be used in the promotion of the Vitality Initiative effort.
There will also be some information available about the initative, and a few fun activities for young and old alike.
There will also be a survey available to those who want to fill one out.
The group will be trying to gather input from folks about what they’d like the Vitality Initiative to focus on over the next year.