MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Can a neighborhood work together to improve the health of individuals and families? That is a question Allina Health is intent on answering as it launches a broad-based neighborhood health program across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. This grass roots program is designed to support wellness and promote healthy lifestyles – one neighborhood at a time. Neighborhood Health Connection™ will provide tools and resources to help people join with their neighbors to improve health for themselves and their communities.
“This kind of approach is exactly what is needed to improve the health of individuals and populations while lowering the cost of care,” said Dr. John R. Finnegan, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. “A large body of research clearly shows that social networks and social supports play a huge role in achieving better health. In many ways, communities are the means by which better health is created.”
Neighborhood Health Connection will give community members the tools to become champions of health in their neighborhoods. Neighborhood group leaders will have access to support and materials to start various healthy neighborhood activities. This will include free health screenings and social networking tools to share success stories and to provide personal support for health improvement.
"I’ve seen neighbors of all ages work together to achieve better health and have fun at the same time,” said Karen Koeppe of the Healthy West 7th group in St. Paul. “Activities like helping people get to their healthcare appointments, planting a community garden, walking dogs together, running grocery store errands or just getting a cup of coffee together all can contribute to better health.”
Neighborhood Health Connection also encourages participants to come up with their own ideas, such as hosting a yoga class. They can apply for grants from Allina Health for up to $250 to support their healthy neighborhood activities.
“Finding ways to engage people in healthy activities has always been a tough challenge,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Edward Ehlinger. “Programs like this, that harness the power of social connections and support, may be just what many people need to take a more active role in their health.”
Allina Health will launch Neighborhood Health Connection at a family-friendly event Sunday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, 312 East Lyndale Ave. N. At the event, people can learn more about the program and participate in healthy activities like gardening and yoga.
The first 500 families who attend the kick-off event on April 29 will receive free Wellness Kits from Allina Health with items to support healthy behaviors, such as vegetable seeds for planting, healthy recipe cards, pedometers and jump ropes. Additional kick-off events will take place in communities around Minnesota and Western Wisconsin in the coming weeks.
“We are entering a new era in health care, one which emphasizes health as much as care. They are equal partners that when taken together can produce stunning results,” said Dr. Courtney Baechler, medical director of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, a part of Allina Health. “We believe that we can truly help people to take control of their health by partnering with them at the neighborhood level. Programs like Neighborhood Health Connection and others to come are examples of how we can build relationships that extend beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics to facilitate better health for our communities.”
For more information on the events, program and to apply for Neighborhood Health Connection support visit neighborhoodhealthconnection.org.
About Allina Health
Allina Health (formerly Allina Hospitals & Clinics) is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide hospice care, oxygen and home medical equipment, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at allinahealth.org.
Those quoted in news release are also available to comment on this initiative:
Dr. John Finnegan, Dean, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota.
Dr. Edward Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health
(651) 201- 4998
Karen Koeppe, Healthy West 7th Project, St. Paul
Terri Dresen, 651-241-8517
Gloria O’Connell, 612-863-4801
Tim Burke, 651-241-8943
KEYWORDS: United States North America Minnesota
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