PUBLISHED: 5:13 PM on Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Community comes together for Sitka Health Summit
Last week, hundreds of people took part in the inaugural Sitka Health Summit, "Working Together for a Healthier Sitka," a two-day event sponsored by Sitka Community Hospital, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, the Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program and about a dozen other groups who contributed time, money and energy. We are grateful to everyone who attended, made donations and helped to make this event a great success.

Our vision for Sitka is "to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life." To that end we brought a nationally celebrated speaker and author, Steven Aldana, PhD, to talk to us about healthy lifestyles and how to reach our goal.

After his trip, Steven wrote back to say, "Of all my travels, I have to say my time in Sitka was the most enjoyable of all. You were wonderful hosts and I consider it a privilege to have been with you. After so many large cities and corporations, Sitka was a breath of fresh air, a return to reality, and chance for me to slow down just a little bit and catch my breath. I will relive my runs through Totem Park for a long time.

"I hope I was able to help out. I suppose time will tell, but I'm sincere when I say you guys have the best opportunity I've seen yet to make this work. It will take an entire community to turn this around and that is exactly what you have - an engaged, focused community all working toward the same goal."

Dr. Aldana said several times that of the 120 or so communities he has visited he sees Sitka as the community that actually can pull it off in terms of adopting healthy lifestyles.

We have so much here; clean air and water, trails, bike paths, nutritious local foods, a large cadre of local health experts, numerous wellness role models like the ones we honored Thursday night, an accessible local media, two hospitals who are working together and, perhaps most important of all, a population of folks who are truly committed to the community and to ensuring a high quality of life for all.

Once again, Gunalchéesh and thank you!

Sitka Health Summit Steering Committee; Frank Sutton and Moe Chaundry, co-chairs