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YMCA to host health education series

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Shelly Birkelo
March 5, 2013

— Looking for ways to improve your mental and physical well being?

If so, the YMCA of Northern Rock County, Mercy Health System and St. Mary's Hospital have the remedy for what's ailing you.

The three groups announced earlier this week they are partnering together for a free Health and Wellness Education Series that kicks off this month.

Monthly classes will take place at the downtown YMCA, 221 Dodge, St., and already have been scheduled for March, April and May, said Tom Den Boer, YMCA CEO.

Series topics range from healthy eating habits and benefits of vitamins and supplements to exercise regimens for active older adults.

According to Den Boer, the YMCA is excited about working with Mercy and St. Mary's in a collaboration that allows the Y to provide free health education to the community with local professionals from both organizations.

“It's matching resources by taking their trained talent, our space and clients, and opening it up to the public in a formal way that fits with one of the Y's core products—health and wellness,” he said.

St. Mary's got involved because of its core mission of improving the health of the community. That means being out in the community, said Joan Neeno, director of marketing and public relations.

“Health education is a central function of what we do,” she said.

Neeno said St. Mary's conducted a community health needs assessment last year. The No. 1 need identified was access to health care, not just to doctors.

“There definitely is a need (for a series like this) so consumers can make wiser choices with access to information and tools to take care of themselves,” she said.

In conjunction with the assessment, St. Mary's implemented a three-prong plan to focus on health care access and health education, Neeno said.

“We're trying to go out to people rather than asking them to come to us,” she said. “The Y (health and wellness education series) is part of that.”

Barb Bortner, vice president of marketing and public relations at Mercy, said it's part of that health system's mission to provide educational programs and health initiatives to improve community health.

Mercy works with dozens of businesses and organizations in all of the counties it serves by providing a variety of on-site health and wellness programs, she said.

“Mercy Health System has built a strong partnership with the YMCA over many years … and are partnering with the new Milton YMCA,” Bortner said in an email.

“We have always provided the YMCA with health and wellness information and individualized services to meet the YMCA members' needs,” she added.

“As we continue our relationship, it is a natural bond for us to offer on-site health and wellness educational seminars and have several seminars planned based on the demographic of the Y membership.''



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