• Seventh annual Sitka Health Summit helps celebrate a culture of wellness in Sitka

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The seventh annual Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and this year’s event features health fair, lunch-and-learn, community planning day and community wellness awards.

This annual event got its start in 2007, when leaders from Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) got together to try and build bridges between their health organizations. Working with other partners, they created the Sitka Health Summit as a way to help improve the health culture in Sitka.

Summit_LogoThis year’s summit opens with the Sitka Community Health Fair, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. This event features workers from the Alaska Health Fair Inc., who will provide a variety of medical tests such as cholesterol checks, glucose tests, vision screenings, flu shots, and more. It also includes informational booths from a variety of health-related programs in Sitka.

At noon on Monday, Sept. 23, at Kettleson Memorial Library will be a lunch-and-learn with Dr. Don Lehmann, a local physician and sports medicine specialist. He will give a brief talk called “Whistle While You Walk,” which will feature highlights about Sitka’s trail system. Participants can enter for a chance to win a set of walking sticks.

The “Community Planning Day: Selecting Sitka’s Wellness Goals” is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at Sweetland Hall. This all-day event is when members of the community get together and select two community wellness projects to work on this year. The two projects will receive $1,500 in seed money, plus facilitation to help get the project going. Last year’s three winning projects included the Sitka Downtown Revitalization project, Walk Sitka‘s work in applying for a Walk Friendly Communities award, and the Sitka Community Food Assessment. Some of the top projects from previous years include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community award applications in 2008 and 2012, the Choose Respect mural at Blatchley Middle School to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence, the Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition’s Get Out, Sitka! project to get more families and kids outdoors, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center as a community resource, etc. There also have been several projects related to local foods, such as creating a Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens and building a community greenhouse, planting dozens of fruit trees around town, promoting more local fish in school lunches, community composting,, and more. The first 65 people to RSVP will receive a free lunch (contact Clara Gray at clara.gray@searhc.org).

Finally, this year’s Sitka Community Wellness Champion Awards will be presented as part of the Monthly Grind at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi on Katlian Street. The awards are made in a variety of categories, such as physical fitness, nutrition, tobacco control and policy, holistic health, injury prevention, and general wellness.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or go to the Sitka Health Summit’s website at http://www.sitkahealthsummitak.org/.

• Sitka residents pick three Sitka Health Summit wellness projects for 2012-13; including a community food assessment

Sitka residents gather for a group photo during the Sitka Health Summit planning day on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

Sitka residents gather for a group photo during the Sitka Health Summit planning day on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

Sitka residents want to revitalize the downtown core area, perform a community food assessment for food resiliency, and apply for a Walk Friendly Community award to show how walkable Sitka is as a community.

Those were the three community health priorities Sitka residents chose to work on this next year when they met during the Sitka Health Summit’s community planning meeting on Friday, Oct. 12, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Sitka residents chose these three projects out of dozens of brain-stormed ideas. Each project will receive assistance with facilitation and $750 of seed money from the summit’s Health Initiatives Fund to start working on meeting the health goals.

The groups working on each project are setting up their first meetings and getting their contact lists together, and Sitka residents who want to participate are welcome to contact the interim group leaders (through the group’s first meetings, group leaders may change after the first meetings) listed below to find out more information.

  • Sitka downtown revitalization project, Angela McGraw, 747-1737, angelam@sitkahospital.org, first meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.
  • Sitka community food assessment, Renae Mathson, 966-8797, renae.mathson@searhc.org, first meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, in Room 108 at Rasmuson Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.
  • Walk Friendly Community, Charles Bingham, 738-8875, charleswbingham3@gmail.com, first meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Swan Lake Senior Center.
Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell speaks to Sitka residents at the Sitka Health Summit planning day on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell speaks to Sitka residents at the Sitka Health Summit planning day on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

The sixth annual Sitka Health Summit took place on Saturday, Oct. 6; Monday, Oct. 8; Wednesday, Oct. 10; and Friday, Oct. 12, at various locations around Sitka. In addition to Friday’s community planning meeting, the Sitka Health Summit opened the Sitka Community Health Fair and Neighborhood Block Party on Saturday at Sweetland Hall. It also featured a lunch-and-learn on Monday at Kettleson Memorial Library where Don Lehmann, MD, discussed “Exercise as Medicine;” and it featured the Sitka Health Summit Community Wellness Champion Awards Celebration on Wednesday night at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahidi.

The Sitka Health Summit is brought to you by Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Alaska Communications and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus. Additional financial help and in-kind donations were provided by the City and Borough of Sitka, Guardian Flight Inc., Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Scott Insurance Services, Shee Atiká Inc., AC Value Center/Lakeside, Sitka Vision Clinic, Wells Fargo, White’s Inc. (Harry Race Pharmacy, White’s Pharmacy, Seasons), Spenard Builders Supply, Don and Penny Lehmann, Alaska Health Fair Inc., and the State of Alaska Division of Public Health Nursing. The Sitka Health Summit’s vision is “to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where all Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life.”

For more information about the Sitka Health Summit, call Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or Alyssa Sexton at 747-0388, or go to our website at http://www.sitkahealthsummit.com/.

• Community Wellness Award nominations needed for Sitka Health Summit

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt, right, accepts the 2011 Nutrition community wellness champion award from Sitka Health Summit Steering Committee Member Alyssa Sexton.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt, right, accepts the 2011 Nutrition community wellness champion award from Sitka Health Summit Steering Committee Member Alyssa Sexton.

The 2012 Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and nominations for the community wellness awards are being accepted now. These awards highlight people and groups in Sitka who are making our community a healthier place to live.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has its roots in the Sitka Health Summit. In 2008, two of the community health priorities dealt with local food security issues — starting a public market for local food and artisans, and building more community gardens and a community greenhouse. In 2010, two more community priorities dealt with local food — planting 200 fruit trees in Sitka and getting more local, wild fish into the menus at local schools.

The community health priorities from the 2011 Sitka Health Summit were to start a community composting project (Sick-A-Waste), develop plans for a new Sitka Community Playground that will be American Disabled Act-accessible, and get more Sitka people active through renewing our status as a Bicycle Friendly Community and launching a Parks Prescription program where local medical providers prescribe time outdoors in our parks.

Anyway, here is the announcement about the community wellness award nominations.

SITKA, Aug. 1, 2012 — Do you have a friend or neighbor you think is a fine example of a healthy role model or wellness champion? The steering committee for the sixth annual Sitka Health Summit, “Working Together for a Healthier Sitka,” is accepting nominations for awards that will be presented during this year’s summit, which takes place Oct. 3-6 at various locations around Sitka.

These awards are for Sitka residents who have made outstanding contributions or served as role models in one of six categories — physical activity, nutrition, safety/injury prevention, tobacco prevention/control, holistic health and general wellness. We will honor adults, youth, elders, policy makers, health care providers and Sitkans of all walks of life who make our community a healthier place to live. The awards will be presented during the Sitka Health Summit Awards celebration, which takes place on Wednesday night, Oct. 3, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi.

Each nomination should include a brief description of why this individual or group deserves an award, and it should provide us with contact information for both the nominator and the nominee. The awards are our way to recognize and thank Sitka’s unsung heroes of community wellness for their contributions to Sitka’s health.

Nominations should be received by Penny Lehmann no later than Tuesday, Aug. 28. Please e-mail nominations to sitkahealthsummit@yahoo.com, telephone them into Penny at 747-3255, or mail them to Penny Lehmann, Sitka Public Health Center, 210 Moller Dr., Sitka, AK 99835.

The Sitka Health Summit started in 2007 after officials from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Community Hospital met and decided they wanted to build a bridge of cooperation between their two organizations. SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital continue to be major sponsors in this community event that involves other health care organizations, schools, businesses, non-profits and other groups concerned about the health and wellness of Sitka. The vision of the Sitka Health Summit is “to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life.” You can learn more about the Sitka Health Summit and check out past Community Wellness Award winners by going to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.com/.