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Community Wellness Initiative Wraps Up Year

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It was an eatin’ meetin’.  On a recent Monday night members Grass Lake Community Wellness Initiative took a well-earned break at the Grass Lake Senior Center on Lakeside Drive in the Village.  It was a chance for staffers and volunteers to share their experiences and to encourage each other to continue the good work they do to help residents to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The Grass Lake enterprise is part of the Five Healthy Towns Initiative, also known by its acronym, 5HT, provides wellness programs in Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, and Stockbridge.  The mission of the tax-exempt foundation is to cultivate improvements in personal and community wellness.

Formally known as the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation, the mission of 5HT involves the planning and funding of community wide wellness plans, the goal of which is to create the healthiest communities in the Midwest.  The program centers on four principals: eating better, moving more, connecting with others, and avoiding unhealthy substances.  Members continue to work together on wellness plans that incorporate existing programs and current health trends that impact community wellbeing.

“We sponsor healthy communities, school districts, and look at data from state and local resources,” said Matt Pegouskie, community investment manager at 5HT.  “How can we best address issues like kids not moving enough or depression among the elderly?”

Pegouskie has been working for 5HT for about six years.  His background is in municipal health and wellness.  In addition to Pegouskie and other staffers that work at the headquarters in Chelsea, more than 150 volunteers offer assistance and expertise in the communities that 5HT serves.

Pegouskie said that similar programs exist in Michigan, “however, we were the first in Michigan to take this community-wide approach, going across county lines.  We’re very much a unique program.”  The municipalities that HT serves are in Jackson, Washtenaw, and Ingham counties.

Members of the movement, yesterday, today, and tomorrow are in it for the long fall and have the funds to take their initiatives into the future.  Funding comes from Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Chelsea that set aside $25,000 as perpetual funding for the areas it serves.        

Those who attended the social at Township Hall celebrated the hard work accomplished this year, including grant writing, proposals, and research.  The group, which meets monthly, will not be meeting in December but  members are eager to prepare for the challenges in 2017.

“Get back to business,” Pegouskie said. “We want to make Grass Lake a great place to live and a healthier place to live.”

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