Nonprofit seeks to help children be healthy

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Freeborn County nonprofit organization is hoping to reach out to families with young children to spread awareness about resources offered in the area.

Called Growing Up Healthy Kids and Communities, the organization is funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield and works with families who are prenatal up through families with children up to 5 years old.

Ashley Benson

Ashley Benson

“We want to make sure there’s a healthy environment for those children,” said Ashley Benson, ambassador for the program. “If we can start them out early being healthy mentally, physically and emotionally, there’s less of a chance of getting health problems later in life.”

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Benson said there are many services in the community, but they are often not connected to each other. Growing Up Healthy Kids and Communities aims to connect families to these services and resources such as Semcac, day care, public health and housing, to name a few. They also have information about childhood development and sleep schedules, for example.

As an ambassador, Benson said she attends the Amazing Newborn Clinic every week from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Brookside Education Center to meet parents and schedules voluntary home visits to help families more one-on-one. She can also attend appointments with families as needed.

“Our vision is to partner with the family to nurture the healthy growth and development of children,” Benson said. “It’s eliminating stress in parents’ lives.”

The organization will sponsor free informational classes at the Albert Lea Farmers Market from 10 to 11 a.m. starting May 16 and continuing on Saturdays the rest of May outside the Northbridge Mall. People are asked to come at 9 a.m.

The class will take participants around the market, show different produce and how that produce can be used. People who register ahead of time will be eligible to win a $20 gift certificate.

Growing Up Healthy Kids and Communities can be reached by phone at 507-320-1722 or 507-201-5278 or by email at

It teams up with a language line through the Freeborn County Public Health Department to accommodate people who speak other languages such as Spanish and Karen.