Fox Valley health initiative aims to get communities talking

Foundation grants support Weight of the Fox Valley, other local programs

OSHKOSH, WI — Did you know that 72 percent of adults living in Winnebago County are either overweight or obese? Statistics show that carrying extra weight takes a toll on the body.

Obesity contributes to four of the 10 leading causes of death among adults in the United States, including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Foundation’s role

  • $30,000 Community Impact grant support over two years
  • President/CEO Diane Abraham serves on Leadership Team
  • Weight of the Fox Valley is one of 10 initiatives, projects or programs that received a total $134,500 in grant funding from the Foundation as the result of the Community Impact competitive grant cycle in fall 2014. See the full list.

Be a changemaker

  • Set a realistic health goal. For example, “I will drink one more glass of water each day,” or “I will take a 10 minute walk at lunch time.”
  • Follow the movement on Facebook for healthy living tips, local resources and activities and updates. “Like” the page and share your health goals.
  • Join an action teams to help advance the movement: Active Communities, Early Childhood, Food Systems, Healthcare, Schools and Worksite.
  • Questions? Contact Keren Rosenberg, Program Manager by email.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is one of the partner organizations supporting a three-county initiative that aims to turn the tide against these negative health effects.

Weight of the Fox Valley (WOTFV) is a movement in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties that encourages residents to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at every age.

WOTFV is one of 10 initiatives, projects or programs that received a total $134,500 in grant funding from the Foundation as a result of the Community Impact competitive grant cycle last fall. Diane Abraham, president and chief executive officer, serves on the initiative’s Leadership Team.

WOTFV aims to create healthy communities, where being active outside is safe and easy, where there is access to healthy foods and access to health care.

“Hopefully, what WOTFV can do for the city of Oshkosh is start promoting those things that people can do to better their individual health.

Ultimately, it’s going to entail a lot of community conversations,” said Julia Salomon, a WOTFV core team member from Oshkosh. Salomon has considerable expertise on the matter as a corporate dietitian for Affinity Health System and Community Health Improvement Leader for St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Starting conversations about health is on the agenda for 2015, Salomon said. She and WOTFV team members will be spreading the word by speaking to civic groups, schools and community organizations in the Oshkosh area. They will ask people to take steps like setting a personal wellness goal, following WOTFV on Facebook and joining an action team.

WOTFV Program Manager Keren Rosenberg says the initiative is unique in how it will determine its progress. The four regional health systems – Affinity, Aurora, ThedaCare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley – and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are establishing a database of Body Mass Index (BMI), age, gender and location. The database will provide an overall picture of health throughout the region that is based on clinical data rather than public surveys. (BMI is a measurement routinely used to determine a healthy weight.)

The database creates a common measure of success, which is an element of an innovative approach WOTFV is taking to create social change called collective impact.

“What we have found is that there is a lot of work being done by individual groups,” Salomon said. “What WOTFV has done is bring everyone together, and there’s been a lot of cross-pollination of activities.”

Community Impact grants are supported by unrestricted gifts from the estates of June F. and A. Thomas Schwalm, Carl W. Ives and Norma E. Sartwell and Erna O. Payton. The following grants were awarded as part of the fall grant cycle:

Catalpa Health: $15,000
Support for an intake specialist and mental health therapist to implement a Rapid Access Model at the new Oshkosh clinic.

Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc.: $10,000
Support for programming designed to help families leave the shelter as a unified, healthy team.

Friendship Place, Inc.: $15,000
Support for a mental health outreach center for adults who experience severe and persistent mental illness.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society-Wisconsin Chapter: $2,000
Support for an educational program designed to improve local residents’ confidence in managing life with MS.

NeighborWorks Badgerland: $8,000
Support for lighting at the entrance of Emmeline Cook Elementary School as part of a resident-led neighborhood revitalization effort.

Oshkosh Area Humane Society: $8,000
Support for the start up of a low-cost spay/neuter program that allows low-income pet owners to get their pets spayed or neutered for a reduced cost of $30/cat and $50/dog.

Oshkosh Area United Way: $30,000 over two years
Support for the Weight of the Fox Valley initiative and the work of six action teams whose efforts will focus on encouraging a healthy weight at any age.

Paine Art Center and Gardens: $4,500
Support for an interactive summer theatrical program in partnership with Hysterical Productions that guides visitors on a tour of the gardens as scenes from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” help bring the spaces to life.

Solutions Recovery: $27,000 over three years
Support for a new part-time executive director position to expand services and community outreach.

Winnebago Literacy Council: $15,000
Support to meet the growing demand for English as a Second Language class offerings.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization created by and for the people of Winnebago County, Waushara County, Green Lake County and Ripon. Through charitable giving, the Community Foundation strives to make our communities thrive. For more information, please call 920-426-3993.

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