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Week focuses on improving public health

Kids attending the "Family Fit Day" at Prairieview Covenant Church on Saturday colored nutrition wheels that they were able to take home. The wheels helped the youngsters determine what foods to eat to achieve a more balanced diet.1 / 2
Prairieview Covenant Church helped community members take steps toward improved health and wellness Saturday by hosting a "Family Fit Day." Above, Family Fresh nutritionist Mary Jo Brunner talks about healthy eating during one of the day's sessions.2 / 2

St. Croix County Public Health is supporting a movement toward a healthier America during their celebration of National Public Health Week, April 2-8.

"Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference. Small actions in our communities, in our homes and in our families will result large health benefits," states Jaye Hay, St. Croix County Public Health nurse.

Nearly 1 million Americans die each year from diseases that could be prevented. Eating less, eating healthier and exercising regularly can go a long way toward helping Americans lessen their risk from deaths that could have been prevented, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke, Hay said.

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote wellness, Public Health invites St. Croix County residents to join the movement at where a "10 Weeks to a Healthier Lifestyle" challenge is being showcased.

From the website or from Public Health's Facebook link, a healthier lifestyle challenge will include fun and informative short videos for inspiration. A new challenge is posted every week. The first challenge, which was posted March 19, urged participants to get fit by committing to 30 minutes of exercise on most days. The second week's challenge urged smokers to set a future "quit date" and work toward that goal.

Nationwide there is a loud message to everyone to "get moving." Michelle Obama has the initiative "Let's Move." The National Football League encourages kids to exercise 60 minutes a day in "Play 60." During the week of April 30 to May 6, families will be encouraged to be Screen-Free from technology and to get outside and play.

Hay also would like St. Croix County residents to know that they can take part in many free or low cost activities that will improve their health.

She encourages contact with local Community Education departments or local hospitals for a list of classes on exercise and healthy nutrition.

The St. Croix County website at has a listing of parks, trails and recreational opportunities. There are a number of local initiatives happening in the communities in St. Croix County with the goal of making big changes. Area businesses have started wellness programs to improve worker's health and decrease health insurance costs.

New Richmond is getting active through the Vitality Initiative where community volunteers are striving to make New Richmond one of the healthiest places in Wisconsin. Walking groups are springing up throughout the community. Check the Vitality website at for days and times.

Since 2008, members of "Healthier Together," a community collaborative has worked to understand the health care needs of St. Croix County. One of the top five goals is to increase the percent of children and adults who have a healthy weight and are physically active. Through this group all schools in the county have been assessed for physical activity.

"Let's Get Physical" classes which offer after-school activities to children not in organized sports have begun in several school districts.

Community Gardens are being planted in several communities including New Richmond, Hudson, Baldwin and River Falls. A long-term goal of bringing locally grown fruits and vegetables into schools is starting to take shape.