(Chelsea Update would like to thank Shawn Personke for the information in this story.)
“Friends and Family Wellness” ideas will be discussed on Feb. 6 at a public meeting hosted by the Chelsea Wellness Coalition at 6 p.m. in the Chelsea District Library’s McKune Room.
All interested groups and organizations are invited to share their ideas or learn more about how they can help Chelsea “move more, eat better, connect with others, and avoid unhealthy substances.”
Three years ago, the Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation, decided that each of its 5 Healthy Towns – Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, and Stockbridge – needed to create their own plan to help their respective communities become healthier.
The foundation’s ideology – that folks needed to “move more, eat better, connect with others, and avoid unhealthy substances” – would be the guiding principle. Once plans were crafted and approved by the coalition, the foundation would provide grant funding.
With that mandate, the members of the newly formed Chelsea Wellness Coalition started meeting, started talking, started daydreaming of a community that had great numbers – number of people walking, number of people with low blood pressure, number of people going to the Farmer’s Markets, number of people that were helping each other to become – well, in a word, “well.”
And since those first meetings in the fall of 2010, a lot has been accomplished.
More than $220,000 was put to good use on projects such as the intergenerational garden, a web portal to connect volunteers to opportunities, a way for seniors to live independently in their own homes, an interactive family literary walk, local grocery stores offering healthier choices, cooking classes for kids, and so much more.
Andy Ingall, Chelsea District School’s superintendent, helped lead the community coalition in Year 3. He said he’s been thrilled with the opportunity to give students the chance to walk or ride to school in one of 2013’s programs, Safe Routes to School and Ride Your Bike to School Day.
He said feedback from the principals was excellent, the bike racks were filled to capacity, and both students and parents welcomed the respite from the afternoon traffic jams.
Chelsea Farmer’s Market Coordinator Ashley Miller Helmholdt, has witnessed firsthand what Chelsea can do when it wants to make a difference.
“I’ve worked with volunteers and interns from Chelsea that wanted to give back, with community leaders investing time into plans for a new downtown park and market space,” she said, adding, “and I’ve seen a real willingness to work together for the common good, including increasing the opportunity for new artisan food vendors and farmers to start their businesses through a farmers market expansion.”
And with those successes, the coalition is moving forward again and the group is looking for a new name.
“There’s just a lot of confusion between three different organizations with similar sounding names,” said Miller Helmholdt, referencing the Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation, the Chelsea Wellness Center, and Chelsea Wellness Coalition, which are three completely different entities.
Secondly, the group is looking for projects that fit the 2014 focus, Friends and Family Wellness. While the coalition already has representation from groups and businesses, more input is needed, and thus the public meeting.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm going forward to celebrate what makes Chelsea a healthy place to live, whether it’s our abundant natural resources, our great local agriculture, fitness activities, or volunteer opportunities around youth, senior citizens and families,” said Miller Helmholdt, who added, “We’re focusing this year on friends and family wellness, and coming together with fun (and free) events and opportunities that can build on what’s really special about living here.”
For more information, contact Chelsea Coalition Liaison Ruth VanBogelen at 433-4599 or email [email protected].