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Wellness in the Woods builds awareness for Vitals app

Wellness in the Woods and Vitals Aware Services partnered to improve interactions between law enforcement and people living with invisible and invisible conditions and disabilities through the Vitals smartphone app.

The app equips first responders with information voluntarily provided by those enrolled in the Vitals program. The service allows a vulnerable person to register online and then keep hold of a token item in the form of a keychain, necklace, bracelet, debit card or Android phone. When law enforcement officials or other first responders who have downloaded the Vitals First Responder app come within 80 feet of a token item, they will receive a notification about the user's diagnosis and information about how to interact with that user.

"This is a powerful tool that promotes independence and empowerment," Jode Freyholtz-London, executive director of Wellness in the Woods, said in a news release. "It aligns perfectly with our work to decrease the stigma that surrounds asking for help, getting healthy, finding good support networks and living well."

Registration for the Vitals program is free—as is use of the program—and takes about a minute. To sign up, text "vitals" to 797979, open the link and fill out the form. Registration can also be completed on the website — www.thevitalsapp.com.

"Our goal is to get this life-saving technology into the hands of people and families who need it, regardless of where they live or how much money they have," Stan Alleyne, chief of communications and partnerships for Vitals, said in the release.

The Vitals app was developed in partnership with The Autism Society of Minnesota. The service was launched August of 2017 in St. Paul and has expanded to several metro cities and counties as well as Crow Wing County.

Vitals also partnered with PACER Center, Hammer Residences and The Arc Minnesota to build awareness and promote the service to potential users and their families.

Wellness in the Woods is a consumer-run nonprofit promoting comprehensive wellness in eight areas: physical, emotional, vocational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and financial. The organization provides outreach and training for more than 2,000 residents across Greater Minnesota and is run by a board and staff of members who have all experienced the impact of mental illness.

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