Story last updated at 4/15/2009 - 11:03 am
Juneau residents will have an opportunity to help shape the health of their entire community at the first Juneau Health Summit, to be held April 23-24.
"There's a lot of interest in this community in recreation and health in general," said summit organizer Larry West. "I really do expect a robust discussion."
A number of local health organizations have come together to put on the event, which is open to the entire community. This year's inaugural summit, "Pulling Together for Health," is sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Alaska Division of Public Health, Bartlett Regional Hospital, the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier Southeast Alaska program, Coast Alaska Public Radio, Southeast Public Health Nursing, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Cooperative Extension Service UAF, United Way of Southeast Alaska and Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 2.
The Juneau Health Summit is modeled on the Sitka Health Summit, now in its third year, but the issues brought up at the summit will be unique to Juneau.
With the stated vision "to work together as a community to develop realistic solutions for health and wellness in Juneau," the entire community is encouraged to participate, bringing the health issues they believe are most important.
When asked if there were any specific topics the summit steering committee was interested in, West said they were leaving it completely open in order to let the interests of community members guide the discussion.
"There's just so many different avenues that this could go down," West said. "If I were to put out there specific things, that could frame the discussion."
The event will begin with a community dinner on Thursday, April 23, followed by an all-day planning session on Friday, April 24.
The community dinner will feature a keynote address by community health expert America Bracho, M.P.H., C.D.E. of Latino Health Access, a community-based center working to provide health services and create healthy communities.
At the dinner, groups and individuals will be recognized with awards for their contribution towards a healthy community.
On the second day of the summit, participants will join facilitated discussions to identify goals and steps that can be taken within the next year to advance the health of Juneau as a whole. Organizations, health experts and community members are all invited to attend and offer input.
"The planning session is really important," said Michelle Casey, a member of the summit steering committee. "We want as many people to come as possible."
The planning session will break into groups focusing on the areas of physical activity, nutrition, built environments and behavioral health, with an additional group discussing issues that fall outside of these categories.
"The four discussion categories cover most of the areas that Sitka has found to be the ... important topics," West said. "There will be allowance for things that don't fit neatly into those categories as well."
The day will begin with a presentation by Dr. Bracho, followed by individual reflections and group discussions. Within each of the discussion categories, groups will look at the big picture, then focus on specific changes they would like to see in the next year, narrowing the scope of the top three themes. Finally, each group will map out concrete steps for action within each theme and present them to the large group.
In a large group, everyone will vote for the priority areas that they are willing to help work to make a realty in the coming year.
"It's the first time this has been done, and good participation is crucial this year," West said. "And so if we can get off to a good start this year, I'm confident that Juneau will rally around this."
The community dinner will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23 at the Tlingit and Haida Community Center. The fish dinner will be catered by Abby's Kitchen. Tickets are $10 for individuals and $25 for families and are available at Hearthside Books.
The community planning session will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, April 24 at the Tlingit and Haida Community Center. The event is open to everyone.
For more information, call Larry West at 586-4648