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Kids health issues addressed

:A series of town-hall style meetings meant to inform parents of serious issues their kids may face and how to deal with them begins at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 4, at Somerset High School.

“We want to spread awareness and give parents the tools that are available,” said Sarah Colling, the middle and high school health instructor and chemical health prevention specialist in Somerset. “These meetings are designed to talk with parents about different issues their teenagers might be struggling with, such as mental health, obesity, substance abuse or anxiety.”

Colling said it’s a chance for parents and community members to come to the school and address hot topics facing kids and adults outside of the school day.

The first meeting focuses on suicide prevention training and will be held in conjunction with The Suicide Prevention Task Force of St. Croix County Dec. 4, Colling said.

People will learn about the QPR (question, persuade, refer) training program and be led through the process of trying to help someone who is considering suicide.

The three steps include: asking someone if they’re considering suicide; persuading them to get help; and referring them to an appropriate resource.

According to the SPTFSCC, for every 13 people trained in the QPR method, one life is saved.

Colling said that while no students in the district have committed suicide, everyone is affected by suicide in some way. The training will also focus on the warning signs people should look for.

The Feb. 6 session will deal with mental health and illness and be held in conjunction with Lakeview Health, Colling said.

On April 3, the St. Croix County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will talk about substance abuse and chemical dependency issues.

The June 5 meeting, the last one before school ends for the year, will address healthy eating and nutrition. Colling said it’s important to instill the importance of healthy eating and staying active in kids while they’re young so they’ll continue those habits into adulthood. She also said she likes to focus on that before kids are out of school for the summer so their parents can help them stay healthy and keep active all summer long.

The idea for these prevention programming, town hall-style meetings began last year Colling said. It was a collaboration between Colling, the schools’ guidance counselors and administrators.

Another way the schools are promoting student health is by hosting an open gym night two Fridays a month at Somerset Middle School from December through March.

Kids can come to the gym from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and learn during a structured play time, Colling said.

“We’re all about ways to give students opportunities to be active so they’re not home plugged into a videogame or a screen, or doing any other unsafe activities,” Colling said. “We need to offer opportunities outside of the school day for kids to be making better choices and not sitting home watching TV.”

The Friday night playtimes are free, Colling said, and sponsored by Lakeview Health. To register for the “PowerUP” open gym nights, go to or and click on the PowerUP link.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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