World Café Brings ideas for healthier community

More than 80 Oelwein residents bright ideas for healthy living to the Work Café held March 9 and the Oelwein Community Plaza.


“We had a tremendous amount of ideas,” said Roxanne VanVeldhuizen, a lead organizer for the event. “Everyone came with great ideas.”


She explained using the World Café model, the people held discussions in small groups of 6 to a table. Ideas were written down and then people moved from table to table, sharing with others.


Roxanne explained the reason for forming the Work Café was to bring awareness of the need for healthier living in the community. With the rise in juvenile diabetes and heart disease, mixed with higher obesity averages and less physical activity, kids today are the first generation to have a lower life expectancy that their parents.


She said the community as a whole can do more to promote healthy activities and better food choices to help compact the negative facts.


Two specific plans were established from the World Café.


The group will focus on getting Oelwein residents participating in a regional walkability program. Waling is the most economical and beneficial exercise for people of all ages.


Roxanne said the core group would be starting some walking clubs. Partnerships will be established with the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, Covenant Medical Center, and Fayette County Public Health. Helping create those partnerships are Jessica Burkhart of the Wellness Center, Barb Schmitz, and Keyah Levy, community health coordinator for Covenant.


“Populations in the county will be targeted with a common message to generate interest. Information will be provided on the benefits of walking 20 minutes a day. Waling maps will be made available to the public,” Roxanne explained.


She said the walkability program would be worked on as a county. Where it leads will depend on the number of people that really get on board.


“The future goal is up to the community members to support healthy living activities,” she said.


The second plan is to host a “Fun Day” on Friday, June 2, the day before the Oelwein Celebration on June 3. This day will feature all kinds of health living activities taken from the many other ideas discussed at the World Café.


“We are having a planning even on May 3 for volunteers to help plan for the Fun Day. The location and time are to be announced. Interested persons wishing to volunteer can call the hospital, 283-6000, to get on a call list,” Roxanne said.


She explained the intent of June 2 is to bring awareness for use of trails in town, healthy eating, locally available fresh food, etc. By turning it into a fun day, Roxanne said the core group hopes what will naturally happen is a lot more people will be doing things in the community to initiate these healthy activities.


“If we can keep the enthusiasm up, we are hoping the ideas will morph into tangible activities. Hopefully, the fun day on June 2 will create the vehicle to get people thinking about, talking about and doing more healthy living,” Roxanne said.


Source: Deb Kunkle, Oelwein Daily Register, 3/31/17.

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