Making A Difference
How often do you get a chance to have an evening out, get free childcare, enjoy a delicious and healthy meal – free – and contribute to plans that could transform the health of your community? Monday, November 14 could be your lucky day! The Oxford County Wellness Collaborative (OCWC) fall gathering will be at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds Dining Hall (by the Livestock office) from 4:30 to 7:30, and you are invited. In fact, you are needed. If you live, work or play in Oxford County, you are needed.
For several years now, the people and organizations of the Wellness Collaborative have been working to change the way we tackle population health, which means the health of every single person. Instead of leaving the decision-making and doing the work to “the experts” (which usually means “someone besides me” who is paid to do it), we have been creating a network that includes anyone and everyone who cares to be involved, volunteer and paid, concerned citizens and experts, in the decisions and the doing. We are creating a way for everyone to have a role and take a hand in making a difference in our County.
If you are already involved in the Wellness Collaborative, you may have been part of a unique process of 80 or so people digging into the root causes of poor health. That group came to unanimous agreement to focus first on a root cause we named isolation, disconnection, and not feeling valued. Next, you may have been part of informing our local hospitals about priority health issues for the County (the top issues chosen are Behavioral Health, which includes substance use disorders and mental health, and Obesity, which includes healthy eating and physical activity.) And finally, you have been part of our county-wide effort to select existing programs that already focus on these health issues. These programs were selected because of their potential for impact across the county and because they are excited to partner the OCWC to address our root cause as part of their work.
The two programs that were chosen (by you) to address the Behavioral Health issues are the Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative and the OCWC Community Safety work group. The resources from several OCWC funding partners will help the Addiction Recovery Initiative with a project to address the stigma attached to addiction and reduce the isolation and disconnection of people who are seeking to recover from substance use disorders. The Community Safety work group will be funded to partner with one of our school districts to inform students, teachers, staff and parents about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and resilience. Understanding how ACEs affect people throughout their lives can help people change how they have been coping with those experiences, replacing behaviors like using substances with healthier choices that lead to feeling valued and succeeding in life.
November 14th will be an evening of discussing how everyone in Oxford County can contribute to these initiatives. Contact Brendan Schauffler at 739-6222 or Brendan@healthyoxfordhills.org for more information and to register. And bring a friend!
Jim Douglas, M.Ed. is the Partnership Director for Healthy Oxford Hills, your local Healthy Community Coalition and a project of Stephens Memorial Hospital. You can connect with him at 739-6222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HealthyOxfordHills
Reprinted with permission from the Advertiser Democrat