Mower wellness effort to expand

Published 10:51 am Monday, October 14, 2013

AUSTIN — Mower Refreshed is expanding.

New programs, an extended brainstorming session and a few more initiatives in the works were among the highlights of this year’s Mower Refreshed summit.

“It just shows that people are ready to collaborate,” said Sandy Forstner, Mower Refreshed coordinator.

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Mower Refreshed is a grassroots community health initiative focused on four areas identified by fieldwork and research specific to Mower County: healthier choices, mental fitness, workforce wellness and community connections. Divided on these topics, four groups meet monthly.

A record number of people were involved in this year’s summit, which took place Thursday and Friday. The initiative has started six new programs over the past year, which includes a Dodge County-equivalent, an award for the county’s most health-focused business, and children’s outreach.

Several Austin High School students attended this year’s summit as well, as part of the high school’s Give/Take 5 group, which also focuses on health and wellness. Lea Oelfke, counselor at Ellis Middle School, said Ellis students will form an overall health and wellness group by combining two existing groups focused on various health goals.

“The cooperation efforts are wonderful,” Oelfke said of Mower Refreshed. “Again, it goes back to little things that are not overwhelming, not intimidating.”

The initiative has focused in recent months on educating the public about preventing adverse childhood events, or ACEs, to decrease children’s stress levels, and therefore overall health level, as they grow.

Yet the program could tackle further public health issues based on the responses residents gave at the summit. Anderson hopes to collect more responses next year, as she and other Mower Refreshed partners plan to meet with residents in Lyle, Grand Meadow and Le Roy in smaller summits.