Crow Wing Energized’s Annual Summit provides an opportunity for the community to learn how we can make an impact on our health and wellness through changing ourselves, changing our organizations, and changing our community.

The seventh Annual Health & Wellness Summit will provide an opportunity to not just learn from those in our own community, but to hear what another community has done. This year’s keynote presentation will share about Hearts Beat Back, an initiative in New Ulm to reduce heart attacks through the Hearts of New Ulm Project.

Hearts Beat Back: The Hearts of New Ulm Project began in 2009 with an overall goal to help reduce heart attacks in the rural community of New Ulm. The award-winning project has succeeded as a result of a strong commitment to improving the health of individuals, while also ensuring the places they live, learn, work, and play support and promote healthy choices.

Speaker Cindy Winters will highlight key components from their Community Engagement Learning Guide through storytelling, real-world examples, and lessons from their 10 years of experience working in New Ulm.

Crow Wing Energized recently connected with Cindy to learn more:

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What is the Hearts of New Ulm project?

The Heart of New Ulm project began as a 10-year research demonstration project to eliminate heart attacks in the 56073 ZIP code. The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation team focused on addressing the modifiable risk factors associated with heart disease by implementing evidence-based and informed programs and policy, system and environmental changes. The research ended in 2018 and the project continues today as a community owned and driven community health initiative lead by a 12 member leadership team that oversees the work of 10 action teams that address specific issues in the community.

When did it start and who is involved?

The research portion of the project began in 2009 and ended in 2018. To achieve the audacious goal of eliminating heart attacks, MHIF created a multi-sector partnership with organizations that had an interest in and had a responsibility to improve the health of their employees, clients, residents, etc. The leadership team is made up of the Public Health Department, the chamber of commerce, the New Ulm Medical Center, the city, superintendent of schools, residents, and other organizational partners that implement the various strategies determined by the leadership team.

There are than 70 community volunteers representing 30 organizations that serve on the various action teams. Everyone around the table understands they have a role to play in improving the health of the individuals within their sphere of influence.

Why did you personally get involved?

I was working for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment when I saw an ad in the Star Tribune for a project manager for the Heart of New Ulm Project. I was doing very similar work at the state level in Kansas. I had been providing technical assistance to community champions that were interested in adopting policy, system and environmental changes to improve community health. I wanted to know if I knew what I was talking about and had relocated to Kansas from Minnesota and had always wanted to return to the state. I have to say this work is harder at the local level but also much more rewarding.

What specifically did the project intend to accomplish?

The project focused on improving the modifiable risk factors associated with heart disease by using the electronic health records as our surveillance tool and health behavior surveys to understand where we needed to intervene. We also wanted to teach the community members how to do the work, create a sustainable model and coordinate the work across the community so it would continue after the research was completed.

What are some of the outcomes of the initiative?

Adults age 40-79 in New Ulm are doing better in controlling their blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides compared to residents in a comparison Minnesota community (source: Assessing the Impact of The Heart of New Ulm Project: A Population-Based Program to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease. Preventive Medicine (2018)). In addition to the health outcomes some of the system and policy changes the community accomplished were the adoption of a Complete Streets policy, development of a Safe Routes to School program, and the creation of a restaurant recognition program highlighting healthy food options.

Why is addressing community health important to your group?

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation aims to create a world without heart and vascular disease. Health has become a shared value throughout the community and is now a part of the New Ulm culture. The Heart of New Ulm Project partners know health impacts every facet our lives in economic terms, community vibrancy, social connectedness and quality of life. They are working hard to make New Ulm a destination where people who want to live up to their full potential will want to live work and play.

Seeing the changes in New Ulm over the course of the past 11 years has been remarkable. New Ulm is a very conservative German community that does not like change. It has made significant strides in embracing health, so if New Ulm can do it, you can too. Change is possible, it just takes time, understanding, and a willingness to try new things. One of my favorite quotes is by Robert Louis Stevenson: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

That to me really explains much of this work. Planting the seeds of change and then giving those seeds the nutrients they need to blossom. I am really looking forward to sharing our lessons learned so Crow Wing County can accelerate their community health work so their seeds have spectacular blossoms.

2020 Crow Wing Energized Annual Summit: Change Begins With YOU

Crow Wing Energized invites the community to the seventh Annual Summit to impact health and wellness in Crow Wing County.

The daylong summit will include:

  • Celebrating what Crow Wing Energized has accomplished during the past year.

  • The results of the Community Health Needs Assessment, as well as highlight the contributions made by participants during the 2019 summit.

  • Breakout sessions to learn how you can impact change through changing yourself, changing your organization, and changing your community.

  • Lunch!

Date: Feb. 21.

Time: 7:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Location: Lakewood Church, Baxter.

Free: No charge to attend, but registration is required. Lunch will be provided.

To register: http://crowwingenergized.org/events