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Top 10: Living Well Together looks forward to 2019

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New Richmond School District Superintendent Patrick Olson explained the process that lead to the formation of the Living Well Together initiative and the plan and goals moving forward during the NRACF's 38th annual meeting in September. Tom Lindfors / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018

According to New Richmond District Administrator Patrick Olson, the Living Well Together governance team has been busy with a variety of set up, organizing and planning action items in its first year. And it will be even busier in its second year as it looks to continue to build relationships and hold events in 2019.

A community roundtable early in 2018 addressed the subject of mental health, but eventually found its way to discussing addiction, bullying, active shooters and wellness in general. The Living Well Together initiative was created with New Richmond Police Chief Craig Yehlik's tagline "an educated community is a well community" as the slogan. The initiative is a proactive, collaborative platform to educate, discuss and combat difficult topics in today's society through the use of symposiums, events and gatherings on an annual, or more frequent, basis. The hope of the initiative is that if everyone is speaking the same verbiage, communicating resources and assisting one another, the power of many becomes the norm to help combat these issues.

In 2018, the group was busy giving presentations to both public and private entities and speaking at various events to keep the community updated on what it is doing and what it has planned for the future. The group has also created a Facebook page (Living Well Together) and now has an email address (nralwt@gmail.com) so community members can reach out to the organization.

Interview data — from a study completed by Dowell Management — articulated a need for programming which would both represent and serve youth/students, parents, employees, employers, seniors, veterans and working age adults. Programming ideas included resiliency/coping skills, suicide awareness, distracted driving, bullying, suicide prevention and intervention, alcohol/drug abuse, opioid addiction, senior/elderly issues (including memory loss, housing, depression, grief), etc.

The Dowell report recommended the formation of two community-based teams, a leadership team and an action team. The Community Health Action Team (CHAT) — led by Jacob Hunt, Community Health Coordinator - Western Wisconsin — will focus on networking, collaboration, and ACTION. Priorities are determined by the group, informed by the perspectives of members, and use of available data/assessments. Projects are aligned with other collaborative work and localized to add value to community efforts.

"Our goal is to get the word out in addition to communicating and partnering with existing events like Kevin Hines (WITC), Suicide Panel (VFW) and more," Olson said.

The organization will be busy in 2019 with:

• Community Foundation collaboration and other various partnerships

• Family Safety Night on April 1

• Analyzing various local and regional data studies

• Speaking engagements to discuss and explore various educational opportunities such as webinars to share with the public

• Participation in events such as Healthier Together Pierce County & St. Croix County Stakeholder Meeting

• More communication and sharing via social media platforms

"This is a group of caring and motivated individuals that want to make a differences because 'an educated community is a well community,'" Olson said. "This is not an exclusive group. If you want to get involved, it's real simple. You can email us at nralwt@gmail.com or see any of us in person. To make a difference we encourage you to join us. Collaboration is how we are going to be proactive and make this community better."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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