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Live Well Streator takes its 1st steps

Program strives for a healthier city

Live Well Streator is designed to make an impact on the city's health.

The idea behind the concept is to help people make decisions that keep them from lengthy hospital stays and provide them with what they need to do so.

These choices may be eating smaller portions, parking farther away from a building's entrance or choosing a vegetable instead of french fries, said Jack Dzuris, executive director at Streator Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and vice chairman of the Live Well Streator steering committee.

"It can be simple stuff," he said.

And the overall goal is measurable results.

The committee hopes to develop targets to reach in the next 10 years, also developing more incremental goals along the way.

Established by OSF HealthCare, a dozen selected community leaders on a steering committee set three initiatives, utilizing data from OSF HealthCare and the La Salle County Health Department.

The goals are specific to Streator's needs. They are healthy eating, physical activity and a reduction in opioid usage and overdose. Each of those goals has an action team, bringing together a total of 45 team members.

It can be done

Two Minnesota communities are serving as inspiration for Live Well Streator.

New Ulm, Minn., a city of about 13,000 people, had a high rate of heart disease in its community, and after a 10-year community effort it was able to reduce those numbers significantly.

Ellen Vogel, the Community Health Engagement program manager for OSF HealthCare who is facilitating the group, said the New Ulm group reached its goal by focusing on outcomes.

"They had success by getting people in their community involved, but they went even further," Vogel said. "They targeted restaurants and worked with them to serve healthier items on their menus. They started initiatives that encouraged people to have a bottled water instead of a soda. They looked at bike and walking paths. How kids get to school. How people get to work and worked with employers on wellness programs. It's simple things, but it made a difference. Their community is a similar size to Streator."

Long Prairie, Minn., also serves as an inspiration. Through its "Feeling Good Minnesota" program, they were able to reduce childhood obesity by 30 percent in a six-year period.

"They honed in on 12-year-olds," Vogel said. "They looked at what kids were eating."

Introducing the concept

Streator's group still is in its beginning stages, but members wants to approach their goals with a focus. The teams are spending much of their time studying data, which involves evaluating the city's resources, its food choices, survey results, etc.

Serving as an introduction, the physical activity team is conducting a 2.8-mile trail walk from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Sept. 3, at the recently completed Greenway trailhead park at 201 W. Broadway St. The first 25 walkers will receive a free pedometer. No registration is required.

"We saw this as a great opportunity," said Josh Biros, executive director at Streator YMCA and chairman of the activity action team. "It's going to be an easy walk, a chance to get out, and get people used to the new trail."

Biros said his experience on the activity team is already positive as businesses normally in competition with each other are coming together for a common cause.

"We're having great conversations with each other that's beneficial to everyone involved," Biros said.

Live Well Streator also introduced itself to the community by handing out vegetables from community gardens tended by Streator High School and Northlawn Junior High School students at the Won't You Be My Neighbor community picnic. Those gardens also supply vegetables to the local food pantry.

Vogel said the emphasis will be on getting the community involved so it has ownership. Dzuris mentioned action teams will reach out to businesses, especially restaurants, about participating.

Vogel said OSF HealthCare chose Streator for its pilot program, and if it goes successfully, they will launch it in other communities.

"As part of rural health care, we're strongly encouraging people to take better care of themselves," Vogel said. "Most of the health choices people make occur outside of a doctor's care."

Steering committee members

Chairwoman Janette Strabala, regional director of operations, Heritage Health

Vice Chairman Jack Dzuris, executive director, Streator Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Mayor Jimmie Lansford

Josh Biros, executive director, Streator YMCA

Amy Jo Mascal, Streator High School principal

Matthew Dean, Food Fanatic Chef, US Foods

Rene Barr, human resources, Vactor Manufacturing

Julie Ramza, owner/pharmacist, Streator Drugs

Lisa Parker, Streator Elementary superintendent

Don Emmons, manager, Streator Kroger

Vicki Gerberich, University of Illinois Extension

Leslie Doughtery, La Salle County Health Department

Don Damron, VP Ambulatory Services, OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center & Center for Health Streator

Ken Beutke, president, OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center & Center for Health Streator

Ellen Vogel, Community Health Engagement program manager for OSF HealthCare

Want to get involved?

To learn more or to get involved, contact Ellen Vogel, Community Health Engagement program manager with OSF HealthCare, at Ellen.M.Vogel@osfhealthcare.org or call 815-673-4528. Go to osfhealthcare.org/livewell for more information.

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